He seeks allegory in every twisting shape and form. A ballerina becomes a tightrope walker; a tightrope walker becomes a dark silhouette against the circus lights; a dark silhouette becomes a gigantic shadow on the wall of the circus tent.
He can smell popcorn and sawdust and melting ice-cream. He can smell manure. He can smell the terror that the crowd feels as they watch the ballerina on the rope: will she fall?
Terror and popcorn and melted ice-cream and a net that doesn’t look strong enough to catch a person but probably is. Probably.
Steadily she crosses, her sequins sparkle. She is hope and she is finely balanced on a rope stretched taught. And the crowd below eat popcorn. They eat popcorn and hope she doesn’t fall. Maybe, somewhere in the crowd, there is a person who hopes that she does.
One foot slips off the string and it vibrates. The tent gasps, collectively. A kernel of popcorn gets stuck in somebody’s throat.
Heimlich, Heimlich. The popcorn is dislodged and the ballerina does not fall. Perhaps, we ponder, it was all part of the show. She smiles and the entire crowd can see it. They smile back because she is safe.
This post was originally published as “16112020“.