A Small Matter

in Poetry

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.

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