We stepped out from under the big tent into the day. The bright round world, so numerous it can’t be counted, presented to me one of its faces, green and fresh with rain, sky shimmering behind the clouds, leaves sparkling in the fragrant breeze. I think we’ll have to agree to be secret lovers, I told him. I took his level gaze to mean he had heard me and understood. He smiled that nothing smile. From that moment forward, everything I said was a beautiful lie. For a time, the world spun true and traveled its track; for a day or more, I was strong. How quickly, though, fail the grips between ourselves and the few who care, when one of us, like an acrobat with too much on her mind, feels air instead of another acrobat between her fingers and falls! I was packing lunches for the kids: the blonde, the sticky one, and Glasses. The sticky one was leaving sticky fingerprints on my ass and I said something—if only I could remember what!—that let her know I was living a secret life. I placed phone calls at all hours. I was suddenly eager for mail. I left the kids idling at the curb to argue with postal clerks who claimed they had nothing for me. I sent my dearest onlys off with sandwiches made of toast and slices of peach. I want a better time of it, you son of a son of a bitch. Your eyes made promises. Standing in the sawdust at the edge of the ring by the pole, the acrobat sparkles in a costume cut just so. She climbs the pole, she splits the air, she rides the rope down to another town: same earth, new crowd, another new beautiful lie.

Copyright © October 31, 2007 David Hodges