25 May 2011

the carnival {a poem}

Overnight, the town became more carefree.
The bank still stood, imposing and columned on the corner.
Suits and high heels still marched in precision step to the train.


Just off Main Street, a carnival had appeared overnight.
All of it: the Tilt-a-Whirl and the kiddie roller coaster
and the Ferris wheel and most importantly,
the funnel cake stand.

Rome wasn't built in a day,
but this carnival was built in eight hours,
which leaves you wondering how well the screws are tightened.

No matter.

This is no time to think about Rome or loose screws—
the carnival is in town,
crammed into the parking lot across from the grocery store,
a beacon, a Pied Piper,
an old boyfriend you can't forget.

Late into the night, music plays,
carried down quiet streets by the year's
first hint of humidity.

People sitting in their living rooms,
windows open,
hear children
shouting and screaming on the Tilt-a-Whirl
and they think:

Tomorrow, we won't worry about dinner.
We'll go to the carnival and have a hot dog,
maybe even a chili dog if the mood strikes,
and some French fries, too.

And if we can get up the courage,
we'll go on that thing,
that ride that drops you 100 feet in a nanosecond,
a freefall, you're weightless, you've beat gravity.

Just before we drop,
we'll look at our town
see it as the birds see it
and realize
that even the familiar
looks like something to celebrate
when you're in the carnival's glow.

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