The purest magic in the world is here,
a yellow glow inside the “Barl of Fun.”
I’m drawn by covert flashes, overhear
the shrieks of lucky children who outrun
the barrel’s sideways pull. When it’s my turn,
a current like an eddy drags me down.
The friction of its constant orbit-burn
scrapes up my hands. I’m stuck. A leering clown
wall-painted on the other side Bip-mimes
a wink and wave till someone grabs and pulls.
A maze unfolds and dead-ends seven times
before I see the trick of light that fools
us all—a mirrored sun, a funhouse face—
and search my own strange eyes for signs of grace.
I searched the carousel’s strange zoo, its grace
distilled in wood-carved leaps. My mother’s choice
had always been the unicorn whose base
moved up and down. She’d laugh and point, her voice
trumped by the Wurlitzer, to the serene
brown pony-horse ‘cause he stayed put. She’d sing,
“In the Good Old Summertime,” and arch and lean
her slender arm towards that bright brass ring,
and hook her finger through. We’d hoot and cheer
and ride again for free. After the flood,
the menagerie was sold in pieces. Here
I am, atop a resin fraud, the mud
caked on its stirrups, reaching in midair
for storied golden rings no longer there.