Interesting place, the circus,
all kinds of alien carneys hanging around waiting to perform,
wrapping limbs possessively Laocoön -like
around each other
while standing at the bar.
then locking in perfect comprehension
turning away in the condescension of the presumed-upon:
how dare s/he!
It can be amusing, being the audience,
watching the circus while waiting for the next glass slipper.
(Funny thing about glass slippers these days –
they’re always two sizes two small,
unless they’re half a size too big.
In either case the foot doesn’t fit and the slipper shatters.
It’s better when the shoe’s too big.
That way it slides off and breaks and there’s no harm to
the metatarsals or the long and elegant toes.
Trying to squeeze into a glass slipper too small is a bitch,
and you don’t know ‘til you try that it ain’t gonna fit.
Appearances can, as they say, be deceiving.
But I digress – back to the circus).
In the center ring the hopefuls,
Some clutching sweating mugs of beer,
almost swaggering in their nonchalance,
others with delicate bejewelled fingers
circling glasses of various shapes and sizes
filled with a dizzying palette of exotic distillations.
Surely the blonde in black is drinking a White Russian,
although what she’d do if she ever met one
– a Russian, that is –
is open to intoxicating speculation.
She’s eyeing the guy with the perfect ass and long legs
armored in denim but he’s oblivious,
smoking determinedly and tossing down shot after shot -
tequila, I’m guessing -
determined to drown whatever’s eating at his soul
in the harsh cactus juice of regret.
Off to my right an earnest couple sits,
silverware clattering, chewing and swallowing,
just waiting for the chance to expound about life,
each eager to impress the other
with their own particular wisdom,
proof of their uniqueness,
their distance from the herd.
My legs are tired now,
the effort expended being charmingly patient and invisible
is taking its toll upon my tolerance.
remarkable in itself in the midst of this hurly-burly,
is utterly destroyed
by the explosive laughter and extravagant gestures
of the aging windbag on my left,
his dramatic gestures swooping exclamation points
out from his pulsing center;
his companion, a younger quieter sort,
nodding sagely and trying to disguise his mortification.
OK, that’s it – I’ve seen enough.
Tonight, it’s clear, I won’t even get to see the glass slipper,
much less try it on.
I’m out the door and going home,
past the ruby-schnozzled clowns trying desperately
to engage the attentions of the fleshy bareback riders
in their spangles and their tulle.
When I get there
I’ll be slipping out of these high-heeled habiliments,
tossing off this tube of sleek indigo caressing the length
of my body,
sliding the smooth black silk off my long and weary limbs,
reaching for a robe and grabbing Steinbeck.
He nailed it, you know, years ago.
The scary thing is that it hasn’t changed one bit.
The circus will always be there,
with the same but different denizens holding up the bar.
The shards of shattered slippers will be scattered on the floor,
the ringmaster will smile as the registers eat money,
and I –
why, I’ll be in bed with Steinbeck,
unshod feet wriggling luxuriously
beneath the warm and well-worn bedding.
© 2012 RC deWinter
The circus as a metaphor for searching for “the one.”