I know what she would say: “But you always
start with the moon.” Some things can’t be helped.
The silence, essential: the brush hog, bound
in trumpet vine, that will sleep forever.
The light one remembers
as one remembers the features of a face
learned by touch, by dark.
A hunk of silver tossed on the scale.
The fire-breather waves his torch.
A man on 10-foot stilts cruises the midway
whistling “Heliotrope Rag,” strumming it on his banjo.
He wears a red linen suit. He holds in his orbit
a dozen round-faced children. He drops
coins of chocolate wrapped in gold foil
from his pockets. The children incline their faces.
He leads them down the midway, the children at the edges
drawn into the gravity of outlandish pursuits. One wins
an angel fish in a plastic bag, which bursts when she drops it.
The striped arrow inside flicks on the asphalt,
stares at sky, the shocked eyes staring back.
In the vendors’ alley, ganged with fried pies,
a grubby child vomits beside the taffy truck,
sick from corn syrup, the centrifugal thrill of “Hurricane Alley.”
His father pats his back; the kid, unsurfeit, smiles.
Theirs is the romance of the flâneur,
those two kids in the basket atop the Ferris wheel,
gushing over each other. They can see the mall from here,
they can see baseball field. They point, they kiss.
In the dead hour
after the last vendor has locked his cart,
the elephants wander the grounds.
Traveling houses of serenity,
they scrounge corn cobs all the way to the riverbank;
they jog past the fire where the man in the red suit
hammers on his banjo while the elephants bathe and spray
each other, and the moon hangs
like a lace glance through a porthole, bright yawn;
waltz-time wave—you, you, you—
pounding like a desert heart
in the red haze of summer gaining on everyone.