Of London: Circus

‘Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.’


“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
What shall we ever do?”

‘Unreal city….’

– T S Eliot ‘The Waste Land’

Summers morning shivered through the rarity of exposed, skin and rattled the bones that led tired eyes and a skull of petals, seashore treasures, the road it used to go. In a cloud of misfitted, white dress, summer felt cold.

‘Some of us walk in the day,’ a friend had sung. It had always been a night time ditch place flowing with headlights, lurking enemies, twisted ankles, disused motel. Summer left the midway exposed.

And all looked newly scrubbed and void. The dark tower stood proud in technicolour as a workhouse chimney, the snap of the guard dogs bark slept; off duty where the factory smelt of glue. .
‘Show me a trick?’
‘I Don’t Do Tricks,’
The man with his hood up demanded money from empty pockets outside the corner shop.
There was once a Christmas tree in the garden of the funeral parlor, it caused doubled laughter but the joke is forgotten.

The white dress lifts like a Big Top and twists like a shroud around a ghost of the circus’s legs as Clancy stands silent, licked with paint and banners. Roll up, Roll up….roll ups? Press up? A slip of old echoes on Wednesday nights.

It was the Christmas trapeze ropes grazed the tops of feet, roll off, drop out of seat, turn, catch the weight at the last moment and. And for years after in a yellow gymnasium lined with trees, the trick was never achieved again. Years later on a blue January train in Maize Hill fresh acrobats huddled in mutiny.
‘She is weak….if she get blood on the silks..’’
How can so much sunlight leave London so cold?

‘You used to hold my feet when I got scared….’
One after another strangers climbed the ladder and swung through the air on a rainy Hoxton morning.
‘You used to hold my feet when I got scared.’
At the bottom of the city, teenagers had peeled off anger to laugh, taught to juggle in a skate park. A trapeze had twisted beneath a climbing frame and caught the drips of twilight trees, and caught delight in numb fingertips. Circus of the dumps.

A security barrier lifts at the entrance, curtain up…’heads up’ the technicians carabiner had dropped to the theatre floor. Lights Up, only the audience wasn’t there.

Curtain call?

Summer blinks on a tattooed back.

Hands come together without applause.

‘I always find myself back here.’ The words twirl.

‘Down by the riverside……Look at the stones on the river bed
I can tell from your eyes
You’ve never been by the riverside…….sings Agnes from the last performance like a whirlitzer tune.

The trapeze is wrapped in its own ropes against a bookcase. It cherishes the smell of paraffin, lingered days of dancing with fire, breaking into the park.

‘But there’s fire! There was fire…..’

The performance smoldered out a little after midnight on the football pitch.

Here are clown arms, belligerently take them. ‘In case I don’t come back.’

Midday on the midway brought rain. The white dress must have washed seethrough as it billowed around London for the rest of the day.

The dress has lost a button, caught over the edge of a little trapeze.

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2 thoughts on “Of London: Circus

    1. Lynsey

      Thanks. I am just poorly theiving modernism. I write in one big heap of though, same as songwriting, I don’t carefully choose what comes out.

      Have you read The Waste Land? Its is incredibly decadant and beautiful but foreboding.

      Every day I cross the river I quote the sweet Thames stanza in my head

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