Mark Irwin

Circus
February 8, 2013 Irwin Mark

Circus

 

I.             Language

 

How the squirrel, skittish, leaps, lobbing its orange

fire through the green

maples. For us, so much

of the risk, so much of the safety

lies in the tiny hooks and branches

of that easy, though sometimes

reckless name.

 

II.            Service

 

During the war, Andrew Asthalter, a Wimbledon

champion, said the crossing searchlights

against the horizon

made the sky look like the moving X-Ray

of a hand “reaching up for something,”

he said, “not the bombs,” he said,

but the darkness balking within the darkness,

a thing of flesh you could

almost grasp.

 

III.          Embrace

 

“I have gone                         about among you                  proclaiming

 

the kingdom, but                   now I know                          that none

 

of you will see my                face again, that                     wolves

 

will come. Finished                              speaking, he                          knelt down with

 

them all, as                                          they folded Paul    into their arms.”

 

Acts 20: 25-36

 

 

IV.          Arena

 

We watched the ball grow, rolling across

the spring grass, and we all touched it, and its

spongy color pushed back, as it continued

to grow, then slowly crushed us, until we knew

it like the blood inside the walls of our body.

Mark Irwin is the author of nine collections of poetry, including A Passion According to Green (New Issues, 2017) and American Urn (Selected Poems 1987–2014). His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry appeared in 2017. He teaches in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California.