Poetry Month 2012. 17: Circus Pony

This is from Heidi Williamson’s debut collection, Electric Shadow, I find its treatment of marriage and children interesting.

     Circus Pony

     Each evening after school you met
     like lovers. You angled offerings
     through the tired wire fence –
     she accepted as the air accepts.
     Among the traffic fumes and concrete,
     her heavy eyes and warm saluting breath
     became your fireside.

     Every night you dreamed her
     in the spotlight, all small girls
     carried on her back, prettily
     tramping the ring, high-kicking
     over flames to gasps and applause
     and for a finale leaping into darkness,
     away from the crowds, the beatings.

     And when you ran away at last,
     north to the gleaming Fens,
     you took a husband and a newborn
     to be safe. Routines followed. Years
     lost like old flames. Chosen
     and not chosen became pathways.
     Fences were your tightrope.

     And when the circus came,
     you took your daughter to the fence
     to see the ponies waiting – wanting
     her to sense that you had stood
     daily by a tired wire fence,
     calming the soft nose of a pony,
     patient, headstrong, poised to bolt.

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