Two acrobats, in red, in green,
cut out of cardboard, jointed & joined
at the hands, six inches high,
dance without thinking under the sky.
One bows at the waist & pulls
the other up, steps backward & falls
to its knees, proposing formally.
Off to one side, the sidewalk vendor smiles,
pleased that we’d like to believe
the little acrobats are alive, not tied
by trick or illusion to a lifeline.
He has a suitcase of their twins,
their faces, pale stencils of desire,
identical: they neither laugh nor cry,
Their balance is precarious. Unable,
in love, to unlock hands, they move,
they dance. They do not see us, eyes
locked into the other’s narrow glance.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 3 Number 8, on page 44
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com