Beatrice Asks Where She Came From

Your father and I met
in a traveling circus. I hung from my knees
on the trapeze and watched upside down
as he soothed a tiger with a toothache.
The lights off my sequins danced reflections
on his face. He flashed a crooked smile
while the tiger licked his hand.

All the blood rushed to my head.
We made you among the sawdust
behind the menagerie. A baby elephant
watched, gently nosing the bars
of his cage, practicing his trumpet.

Your father and I met
at a Dresden train station. My skirt
caught in the turnstile. His briefcase
hit the ground and exploded fireworks
of Tootsie roll wrappers as he knelt
and cupped my calf, holding me steady
as he tore the oil-stained fabric.

All the blood rushed to my head.
We made you in an abandoned
passenger car. The mechanical hum
of the iron tracks sang straight and narrow,
a lullaby beneath our feet.

Your father and I met
on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Our family vacations
overlapped just so: for one night only,
we ate cotton candy and locked sticky mouths
together, ignoring the tourist talks of travel
and the sand crumbling in our shoes.
He tucked a strand of hair behind my ear
and promised that he’d write.

All the blood rushed to my head.
We made you in shadows against
a carved and splintered pillar. Navy
waves slapped the steel hull of a
steamliner, just barely out of port.

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