When Vassar senior Elizabeth Bishop asks Marianne Moore
to the Ringling Brothers Circus, Moore says yes.
The elephants are costumed, in pink and reds,
wear comic feathers on their headressed heads.
They sway a shuffle pattern on their pillared legs.
Hip to shoulder, a long grey line rough
with rough skin, they conjure,
blue-dark, and slow as stares.
Beneath the spangled girl on the trapeze
(out of the way, exchanging this for that),
elephants are uneasy in the adjustable real,
their pavilion sectioned to an angular sky.
In early dawn they’d been the ones
to haul the ropes, strung to old canvas,
tight to the poles, righting up this transience,
the jury-rigged home, someone’s idea of joy.
Copyright © Persea Books 2016
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on behalf of Persea Books.