Circus Mother

I come from the circus people
from the smell of sawdust wax dry ice
I come from the ringmaster’s mistress

wild in her fishnet tights
on a night too windy to set sail

I come from the trailer full of straw
tent flaps slapping against poles
I come from the sound of the whip
the gasp of the crowd thin rope ladders
juggling flames on the slack-wire

I come away from the empty tent silent now
a jagged shadow crawls across the moon
after dark the debris and bruises don’t show
I come from the last caravan on the right
on the edge of the field where she waits for me.

Kate Ruse: This is an imagined story in a poem about a child’s view of her heartless and cruel mother.