A black silk top hat moves among furs

colossal as imagination. The courtship of lion and tamer

occurs, whip flicking the tawny flame.

 

A white horse preens and dances in its ribbons,

throwing back its head—secular, Love-less.

 

Sweat from the animals, excrement, and sawdust mixes

with its citizens. The moral center slides in such

atmosphere. Real fear. The lion rears.

 

* * *

 

A man and a woman sit together, as strangers. Brute

lust coupled with loneliness makes them

lovers. The universe tips, his knee eases lightly against

 

hers. No protest. Merely heat’s everywhere

influence on the air. An ostrich feather

 

falls from gracelessness, lifts with the spectacle, rising

in a wind-tide of without precedent. Free, as in dreams,

they lean. Blameless for what it may mean.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 6, on page 27
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