This Circus Never Breaks (unlike my back)

I am sister to that goose-gray elephant balancer,
I set the stage for her cool and slanted ride.
I am the one who
stands against the wall.

Sometimes I hold a knife
between my teeth,
sharpening an eye on its
thin brilliance.
I hold out my arms
standing spread-eagled
half-listening to the timed patter
waiting for the perfect set of blows –
thunk
thunk
thunk

(punctuated by their half-gasps)
and I open my eyes and step out smiling,
leaving my handled silhouette.

Sometimes the trim and feathers
that pass for my clothing
are fingered tight to the wall,
spiked in with their little points like eyes,
ripped free with unconscious effort.
Sometimes my edges are scratched,
thinly bleeding, my dusty blood
running over old scars
in the same places.

Unlike my back, this circus never breaks.
I have been doing this since I could stand still,
and I will not stop until the blades lose themselves
in my wrinkles, their staggered snakes
swallowing them whole.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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