Robert Gregory






In grammar-school yellow and red, on cardboard
that faded the day it was printed, the poster
(from behind what used to be the Curtain)
announces Circul Bucuresti:  acrobatilor, clovnilor,
parada animalelor.  In the photographs (blurred),
a small man with an inky mustache is making a tiger
sit up and beg.  N. Ropciuc (it says) is waving
from atop a rearing white horse.  Mustache and N.
must be the animalelor but the lady in flowing white
robes and those tarty tin-colored shoes, extending a
mystery-object—a flute, a small silver ladder?—
Miss Eva, it says?  She’s neither acrobatilor nor
clovnilor.  Caught in flight, just coming down to land
on the mystery thing, with a pair of white wings
upraised and a little black dot to see with (so it seems
from the photo) is a very white bird and Miss Eva
(a priestess it could be) stares at the white bird intently.
Now I can see it more clearly:  a what’s-its-name,
that thing like a xylophone you march with in parada
and the very white bird (I know this from staring
at things just like this on a tiny round black and white
screen, staring and staring once upon a time) is about
to play us a tune.  A waltz with a tempo much slower
than ones that we’re used to because he’s got to walk
from one note to the next (we all know how that is).
The same waltz that when it came so faintly one day
from the precious and broken old radio, the sound
almost lost in the storms and the static, the jamming,
the older ones instantly rose to, not shyly, and twirled
themselves to, laughing and bumping the thin feeble
chairs in a tiny cold cinder block room with nothing
while the little girl Eva (or whatever her name was
before her show business career) was listening, staring,
tapping a chubby white finger and wondering for the
hundredth time:  how would you disappear from all this
or how would you change yourself into a radio,
with maybe somehow a bird and some shiny silver shoes?

Copyright © 2004 Robert Gregory.  All Rights Reserved.

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