When she was little she was taught
how to climb the slack wire.
Up four or five steps
leaning out     one arm extended,
she’d sequin smile
they’d clap   get her down
send her back   behind the canvas flaps.

When she was a little older
they taught her to climb to the perch,
untie the trapeze and descend
but later she feared things
a shadow in one high corner of the tent
would sometimes seem to steal one of her limbs.

The music could no longer conceal
the popcorn crunch     anxious whispers
upturned glances    waiting for the fall.

She never learnt the triple spin,
instead she sidestepped into the
cushion his shoulder made
and putting away the chiffon and the silk
picked up the bric-a-brac of marriage.