The cage dangles upside down
on the tip of a tentacle flung,
like a baby's arm,
to its steepest sprawl.
It idles in the breeze,
quivers, my knuckles white,
tight with clutching the metal bar.
A singe of sugar rises from the candy
floss and axle grease, Woolworth’s
cheap scent, shouts, laughter; all
the hurdy gurdy grizzle of the fair.
I breathe like sipping water
in a drought, barely enough
to keep me conscious lest
I fall into a belly-bloating wail
and loose my grip. How might it be
to slip and soar, a swift inscribing secrets,
or the clot that might
have been you slipping
out from between
my legs, to
a crooked star
glinting in the churned up mud,
its essence seeping through
its jelly fish skin. My fingers tire, begin
to fail, open, but the engine judders
back to life. Cogs, once
smooth, stutter me back
to the start.
I clamber out,
my face a clown's mask,
and, though my lips curve upwards
as if it's been nothing
more than a lark, my heart
weeps clotted tears.
Pratibha Castle’s work appears in print magazines including Sarasvati, Reach, Fly on the Wall Press, Imspired and various anthologies. It is featured in the online sites The Blue Nib, Impspired and Words for the Wild and is about to appear in Fragmented Voices. She has also published an award-winning pamphlet, A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press, 2021).