The sage’s tent
The last cage rolls past. Strains of a Souza march float back over the receding circus train. Children wave flags from high atop their father’s shoulders. Confetti and cotton candy fill the air.
The trumpets’ final notes echo off canyon walls. You can’t see the marching band any longer, but the drumsticks’ crisp solitary clicks leave you yearning for more. Following the last wagon is a troupe of midgets in clown suits. Some of them perform tricks that make you laugh so you don’t notice the others who are sweeping and bagging elephant dung and Cracker Jacks.
The whole procession makes a right turn at the end of Main Street onto a path leading into the forest. In a clearing, the wagons and music come to a halt. The Ringmaster passes by each cage and taps them with his wand. The doors open and the animals exit. Only then do you realize one of the cages is yours. A few of the beasts light up cigarettes waiting for the midgets to finish raising a tent.
When it’s completed, there appears to be a saloon inside. The hyena removes his tie, laughing at the donkey’s joke. They both order scotch. In another tent, a DJ plays hot, cold psychedelic jungle sounds, and the beasts make their own freak show. This performance is not meant for coward’s eyes. Your presence here is to record what goes on behind the scenes.
Outside the situation is not much better. A lizard wipes the smile off his face and licks his lips. The target of his quest will be found in a quieter place. He scuttles off through the pine needles and disappears. A turkey vulture is circling high above the tree line.
You struggle to take notes because there is so much going on and it’s all so strange. A fight breaks out among the dancing bears and a sound like thunder sends timid mice scurrying into holes. You stand your ground. You peer inside the magician’s tent where buyers of magic stand in line to purchase a few of his cheap tricks.
After his last customer, the wizard removes his black satin cape and changes into a business suit. He is proud to report his meeting with the Prime Minister. He leaves by the back door.
Outside her trailer, the bearded lady applies healing balm to the elephant’s foot and offers tea to the midgets and a two headed boy. Night falls. The full moon rises over the tops of the trees. In the very center of the circus wagons it paints a circle of light. A troubadour recites bawdy poems while jugglers toss light globes into the dark sky. Clowns in face paint do back-flips for your camera.
The Amazing Zumo swings from one side of the clearing to the other on his flying trapeze. On his return flight, he catches his wife, the beautiful Zenda, in midair.The moon continues its arc. The side show tent has become a universe of the ruined. Looking for love, beasts who settled for cheap substitutes have fallen into shadows.
What are you doing here! You’ve seen enough. All you want is to go home. But you can’t remember where that is. Clouds pass over the moon, veiling its beauty as though it were a woman too beautiful for your eyes. The music has faded without your noticing. The only sound you hear is the snoring of beasts.You break into a cold sweat, your whole body shaking.
There is no refuge in sight and you’ve lost your notebook. The moon slips down below the trees, then returns and you don’t think this is odd until another day.
It is the time of night when miracles happens. A nightingale, tuned to a higher frequency, begins her song of yearning. You understand her completely. A Hoopoe has taken up residence in the magnolia tree and called the wild birds together for a conference. Another tent you hadn’t noticed before has a line outside. It is the Sage’s tent. He is serving soup and beautiful secrets to the bearded lady and her friends. There are stepping stones of moonlight from where you are to his door.