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January 9, 2011
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Because I do not dream in black and white,
My sleeping body dresses in one piece of dazzling spots
and stripes.
A tightrope walker’s clothing, worn purple
or red, a trick of the eyes as a thousand wait for me to fall.
I am in love with the perfect circle below me,
the old men who feed the elephants,
the children holding their breath.
You were sitting with the lions, mouth spilling fire,
face painted black and white,
hypnotizing all things beautiful and frightened.
At home, my toes press against the bedroom wall
and my wind-up outline watches as our shadows
sneak away to play with matches.
Our tent is collapsing, but I can hardly notice –
I stop my heart from beating because
this act requires absolute silence.
At the last possible second, you call out to me
and we escape just in time.

Here the grass has no shadow, and
I watch the flames reflected on your cheeks.
Our tent turns to ashes on the skin
of the audience,
it catches on their arms and eyelashes.
We watch the animals run free and tear down
the cardboard structures, destroy the grass
which was once so in love with me.
You paint crosses on my shoulders and whisper,
“Everyone here is going to go home and spill
purple and red stripes onto their bed sheets.
Fathers will brush their teeth with stage light.
Mothers will, unknowingly, feed their children
a prestige for dinner.”
I give you what’s left of the grass
and smile when your fire burns my skin.

In the last moments before I wake,
the paint on your cheeks infects everything,
and the world is a beautiful and frightening
black and white.
I am not scared because tonight,
the circus is in all of us.
We hold hands as your lips burn away,
the flames silently illuminating
the skeleton of our final act.

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