The thrill of the fair is not in the glamorous machinery
and its spin, or in the clamour of infants longing
to be heard, but in the hour when music stops
and lights blink out, when a man threads a dark path
among greyer darknesses of once-bright carousels,
and becomes, with them, a bearer of absence,
night’s counterpart, impossible to bring to focus.
The stars have plucked their eyes from the world,
which has become a mirror of blindness, blind
also to itself. Only the man’s uncertain steps alert
his listeners to its presence. So when they screw
open a cheap Cabernet and lose track halfway
through his walk from Waltzer to Big Wheel
and dawn spills out like an over-familiar friend,
they feel grief that the night is unrepeatable
as its secrets, as footsteps that leave no echo.
First published in Magma magazine and included
in The Opposite of Cabbage (Salt Publishing, 2009).
Read more about Rob and The Opposite of Cabbagehere.