Poem: The Man on the Flying Trapeze

The Man on the Flying Trapeze

You are feeling oldish today.
A familiar weight threatened.
but only for a moment. You know the drill.
You know the lies.
You know the way out
and soon you are on your feet,
demons summarily dispatched.
Showtime again.
Curtains up. Cue the music.
Make sure the tap shoes are tight
and step into the light.

Every day for a decade and a half
and glad for it. Glad for the warmth
of the life and kindness of lovers and strangers
and you become the long-running show
on your own broadway,
growing old in the role, from ingenue
to matron, adding nuance to each day’s performance.

Some days are better than others.
Always have been.
Few notice. But you do and the temptation
is to slide, to let the demons catch you
just as the audience believes you have escaped.
Just for the rest. Just for the effect.
The oohs and ahhs.

But you are better trained than that.
From childhood. Your mother’s words echo:
“Never let them see you sweat.”
You wonder what she would think of you now,
sweating in public, a sideshow
in the dark corner of the tent. Would she shake her head
at your failure to learn her lesson,
or wonder how far you can fly,
defying time, space and the tomes of childhood?

About this poem.

I learned most of my important life lessons from my mother and my grandfather. Mostly they were the same lessons. One or two however, I seem to have totally ignored.


One comment

  1. “Don’t let them see you sweat”? Multiple interpretations – I take it as “appear confident even when not” (mental rather than physical). I guess that serves many times, but the older I get the more I appreciate those who not only accept their uncertainties, but share them with others like me. Thank you!

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