The Circus People

by Joshua Seigal

Jessie is two, she’s scared of me –
my hands to her are ursine paws,
my beard is tangled foliage
wrapped around a stony jaw
and when I smile at her my teeth
seem sharp, my eyes are dark, I try
to offer her my paw. She cries.

This reminds me of a programme
I saw, about circus-people.
One had a bulbous foot-long nose,
one had strange bubbles on his skin,
but the one who the children were
really scared of had claws for hands.
He said to the kids, “I don’t bite”

but still they wouldn’t go near.
Jessie is two, I’m five-foot-ten,
looming over her, a bumbling hulk.
I see her eyes wide open with fear
as I wait for the door to chime
and the ringleader to take me away.

Joshua Seigal studies philosophy at Univeristy College London.

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