Marin Poetry Center

ringmaster's apprentice 

By Lauren Dias

place me on a splintered wooden box
spotlights beam down on me
until I’m blinded by fame.

in alluring stripes and false pride
place a topper on my head, conceal my faulty props
tight suspenders embrace my chest
squeeze till my lungs constrict and my breath is lost.

that night replays in my head
grime coated the cobblestone street
moth eaten clothes hung on my frame,
I was half the size I am now.
your outstretched hand hovered in my face,
eyes twinkling like constellations,
my hand latched onto yours.

I’m pedaling in circles, gliding on a unicycle
one foot after another, I push, persevere
but I’m right back where I started.
swimming in a fishbowl, drowning in applause
a falter,

a foot slips,
a wheel skids
your concrete facade cracks,
shredded fingers clutch the whip.

coax me to jump through fiery hoops
when I’ve only just learned to juggle.
force my grin with scarlet-smudged lips
substitute my tightrope for a slackline
if you think I’ll make it, I’ll make it.

when I topple and shatter on the circus floor,
you have no intentions of sweeping up the pieces
I’m sorry,
I will better my act for you.

Honorable Mention:  Lauren Dias
Marin School of the Arts

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