A Small Matter
The summer I turn sixteen, Jolly-Boy has a breakdown:
so sad – the kindest and least scary of all the clowns.
The Ring Master replaces him
with a talkative Welshman called Leon,
who throws knives in rhythm with 1950s jive.
Under scornful starlight, he tells me I’m Special
and licks already wet lips. A bouquet of blades flourish
from one hand, a signed photo – of himself – from the other.
I’ve no clue who he is.
Backstage he eyes my built-up boot – thinks me
oblivious. My spine tenses as his breath matches
the uneven roll of my hips at each step.
He’ll take me on as his wife, he promises
The Ring Master – a deal done behind red curtains,
used notes and gentlemen’s agreements. Unlucky
he has to part ways with the troupe
halfway across Norfolk. I’m not allowed
to throw knives after that. Even so, a man can function
with only one ear, and a missing testicle is a small matter.
Bio: Holly Magill’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Interpreter’s House and Bare Fiction, and anthologies –Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press) and #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology (Fair Acre Press). She co-edits Atrium – www.atriumpoetry.com. Her debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé, is a fictional sequence, following a young woman’s coming of age in a fading contemporary circus, and is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing.