Jugglers

Francisco Aragón

 
She and I on a bench eating prawns:
the first day of her fiftieth year and she points
at two street performers about to juggle
fire, and a distant summer morning
surfaces, afloat on the light wind blowing
off the bay—older sisters in the dark, hiding
as big brother parades around the house
his hands outstretched clutching large candles
I'm on a search! he shouts,
marching from room to room
till he finds them huddling in a jungle
of clothes, beacons flickering as flame-
hot wax begins to flow across his fingers...
while she is walking to Centro Adulto, her head brimming
with phrases: the words she needs so she can quit
sewing, land a job in a bank; and the sitter
arriving minutes late, finding us wet
and trying to save a coat, a shirt, a dress—it's
a small one: nothing the green hose
and frantic assembly-line of buckets
doesn’t eventually douse, leaving walls and curtains
the color of coal—ˇMira! she gasps
her left hand rapping my shoulder, still pointing with the right
as the torches,
from one juggler to the other,
begin to fly
                     for my mother (1932-1997)
 

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