As you suspected: no more visitors
to the tent.
Only four tourists, half-blind, who staggered
down the harbor from aboard a black Yokohama ship,
whispering, “Go on, write down your impressions,”
and on a sheet of rice paper
they wrote down your name (well, probably your name).
On the trapeze you did not cry.
Once, somewhere up there you might have seen
angels, travelers, by turns. The sky as if
convulsed, dusk nearing its end,
the call to prayer like the scream of an ambulance,
and nursery tales, riddles, like candies,
like candles, were brought over to the children
who were lying in a barrack,
far, far away, in a distant house.
This is a tired district, people say, the old Banten.
This is a district defeated.
No, I tried to protest.
But in the arena, a clown with a rumble in his
stomach tried to read his own shadow
on a tarpaulin: “How come I too am at a loss.”
I heard a person humming
behind the stage,
into the makeup room
to wipe powder off her face.
As if erasing a trace.
As if peeling off memories,
peeling off the heart.
“This,” he said, “will change us
into reality. Circus is but a dream.”
Circus: a dream.
But outside, reality
gropes the limits. Like the rushing,
rustling of raindrops
across a pool’s surface:
the routine of water shaping traces,
masses of circles.
Ripple, shimmer, blue.
And possibly sound, too. A promise.
And you descended the trapeze.
There was no horse parade, but you weren’t
surprised. No line of girls
in white leotards,
no bears wobbling on all fours.
Just the movement of dwarves
choreographing an illusion:
“Look, it is our bodies
that free us tonight. ”
Our body asks us only
not to die, actually.
Our body only wants to touch
the joy of morning, the flurry of a male bird,
the steaming warmth of coffee, and to hear
a gentle injunction, like:
”Life is just a beer break on a journey.”
But to this field the circus once came,
and you flew, acrobatic
leaping through a hoop of fire,
like a dancing bird.
We are all animals that tried to
fashion something out of that fear, you said,
a structure of fear,
like a city in the forest.
Still. In the end, the circus hands will
once more shoulder the billboards,
our old frayed orange tassels,
and dismantle the tent.
The troupe will move again.
To the southeast, you said. Towards Tasik.
And like in any old ruins, here
battered grass will wait.
There will be no committee, no one saying,
“We will not forget.”
But you believe that forgetting
is what will free us.