“Circus-Apprentice” by Katherine Gallagher

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I’m learning it all – acrobatics, clowning,

riding bareback and trapeze,

fire from a sleeve: my hand’s a wand.

I weave my life around dancing elephants

who spray the air while turning their backs

on the crowd;

lions who never put a foot wrong.

I’m taking their cue, I’ve seen

what people want.

Prancing ponies teach me steps:

pacing, adroitness, like my fellow-dancers

keeping their spot.

I’m walking the high-wire, making my mark

poised, balanced, don ’t look away –

you are my gravity’s other edge.

© Katherine Gallagher

(Published in Carnival-Edge: New & Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2010)

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