Deep in the heart of every child, every mother, every spectator, lies that secret wish to see the trapeze artist fall, to see him smash his bones against the ground, spill his dark blood on the sand, that fundamental wish to see the lions fight over the tamer's remains, the wish to see the horse drag the rider around with her foot caught in the stirrup, striking her head in rhythm against the edge of the ring, and for them we have launched this circus, the best, the ultimate, the circus where human pyramids collapse at their base, the knife thrower sinks his blades (by accident, always by accident) into his assistant's breast, the bear shreds the gypsy's face with his paw, and because of that, because the worst-case scenarios play out and because we always want what we don't have, the audience's desires shift: sick of disasters and failures they begin to wish that the trapeze artist's hands reach it in time, that the tamer keep the lions under control, that the rider make it back to the saddle, and instead of being filled with death and horror, the secret places of their hearts begin to brim with horrified kindness, with hope for the happiness of others, and thus they leave our show at peace with themselves, proud of their humanity, feeling they are better for it, that they are decent, sensitive, and well-intentioned people, the generous audience of the most perfect of circuses.
Ana Maria Shua
Without a Net
Hanging Loose Press
Copyright © 2012 by Ana Maria Shua
Translation copyright © 2012 by Steven J. Stewart
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission