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Long Beach, CA

A Circus Memory

Poetry Blog

A Circus Memory

Brandon Cook

I remembered, when my son came to my bed
Still stumbling up from his nap, just awake
That you took me to a circus

I don’t know why
I haven’t thought of it in years and was, in fact, surprised to find any memory of it,
Let alone something so pristine and clear, like a photograph dusted off, but
There it was, a file suddenly found

I was focused on the subtlety and smallness of his breaths, minutely filling the minutes,
When suddenly I saw the great green hall of the civic center,
The concrete once swept clean now filling with popcorn and peanuts and sunflower seeds
And in my hand a yellow fan they’d handed out, advertising a dealership, cross town,
As children bounded in and sat down in the delicious dark, waiting for the start

It had been raining—a good storm, too
So we were wet, which was part of the fun:
To step from storm into a place where the soul heaves away from sad shores,
For just a moment even, to remove itself,
To be restored in those tents
And in the centuries of trains traveling cross country, long before the show was contained in the big rigs which rumble now, with such melancholy, into town

I don’t know why I remember it, except perhaps that you loved me in it
In-between the crazy of our family and the broken glass of pain,
The ruthless love was there, rooting me
And I stand amazed—or sit or lie, as the case may be—at how deep and strong the love goes, covering (as they say) a multitude of misses,
Like ink which colors the whole pot of water

And my son, my son
His face without lines,
His life the very meaning of miracle
With such a heart to hold so much love:
Wordlessly he crawled up the sheets and lay down, smiling sleepily to find me here
And I tried not to move, still as a lion
As he slid beneath the big tent of my arms

Arms poised to hold, and also aware, already
Of letting go
Because that’s how love goes—
The tender breath of it so subtle
Though it builds worlds and holds us, through the storm