Virginia’s Invitation

tap tap tap

tap tap tap

you’ve got your eye to the peephole, but see no one at your door
give me a break; I’m short

tap tap tap

“Who’s there?” sounding maybe surlier than you meant to

this whole apartment building smells like a hospital
and your floor is the worst

tap tap tap

“Look, I’m not going to open the door until you say who you are.”

perfectly reasonable… except you’re assuming I can speak

an old lady comes wheezing out of the stairwell
as she passes, her eyes are glued to me
it unsettles me how beautiful they are, her eyes
a rare pale green, flecked with gold

tap tap tap

i hear your muttered curses as you work the chain to open the door
i have always had very good ears. too good. when i turned ten
and mom let me leave the trailer to go bunk in the bigtop
with the other performers
i had a hard time sleeping because of the breathing
of the dancing bear

“I’m going to open the door now.” why bother saying that
you silly goose, daft old bint, just open the door already

“Oh!” is all you say when you see me
i don’t mind
i’m used to wide eyes and tangled tongues

i try my winningest smile as I hold out the printed card

thank heavens you have the presence of mind to accept it
after only a moment’s pause
i don’t want to spend any more time than i have to
in the antiseptic fug of this god-forsaken building

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED, reads one side of the card

as you turn it over, i wonder
whether the tremble of your hand is just old age
or whether you know already somehow

have we got plans for you!

“Dear Virginia DeMore,” you read aloud,
“Your presence is most humbly requested
“At tonight’s exclusive private performance
“Of Hucklethorpe’s Travelling Menagerie.”

you look up from the card
then down at me
standing here with my teeth hanging out

you’re not shaking anymore
and the way you stand
just a little taller than a moment ago
tells me you’re remembering

regaining a certain forgotten dignity

you don’t know though, not yet
no, you haven’t really a clue

what lies in store for you



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