Carnival Girl

Kyle Hemmings


As a fly-a-way girl weighted down
by high need & low canvas,
she joined a circus,
became a flirty gap-toothed target
for the knife thrower with Bowler hat,
suspenders, no shirt. After he wounded her,
they spent nights kneeling,
hands clasped in some pagan prayer.
She learned to read Braille from feeling
the tiny scars, the old pock-marks on his face.
She folded herself in his linen closet.
She no longer sighed near his oven.
She brought casseroles to a needy acrobat.
The knife thrower committed suicide
with a mirror. Never let another man
graze my misshapen earlobe, she thought.
Birds whirled over her.
Winter dropped them into her hands.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790