Les Saltimbanques (The Acrobats), by Gustave Dore (France) 1874
A balanced art composed to bring
diagonals of blue, soak red,
reflecting acrobatic swing –
but shed composure, fallen, bled.
Sneer ace of spades in circus grin
joins daylight owl awaiting death,
hug leotard, pale second skin
save flush of loins, last bandaged breath.
So close to wight, this white of son,
thin border in this fairground haunt,
witch, cartomante, bohemian,
pietà boy at heart, now taunts.
Juggle the trumpet, tambourine.
last trump to greet with joys or fears,
performance dogs claw, paw with whine,
site sheer flesh costumes, drapes in tears.
Reading their runes, here parents fail,
with tricks of trade done, plain wall-slung,
exquisite laid by wailing veil,
What cost, the moneymaking young?
Published by The Ekphrastic Review, November 2022
Nominated as one of their entries for ‘Best of the Net’ July 2023
Used by permission of the author.