Fair of Wonders

Fair of Wonders

The Fair of Wonders waited in the gloam,
a shining, trembling sparkle of the night.
Shay found herself drawn to it from her home,
the miles’ journey feeling like a flight.
Right at the gate, three women greeted her—
Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos three.
Their vague predictions held a strange allure,
combining farce and subtle flattery.
Her head alive with words, Shay walked the rows,
her eyes alert, on lookout for a prize.
From in between the dark ‘twixt tents arose
a face that she had learned to so despise.
“It’s you,” Shay hissed, voice tinged with bitterness,
“Have you come back to take him from me now?”
The other woman, wreathed in youthfulness,
drew near as ghostly visage would allow.
She said, “It is not I who takes your man,
for if he willingly will leave your side,
perhaps it is you who should check her plan…”
Her smile and her eyes were very wide.
Shay staggered through the specter, hand upraised,
dismissing words and sentiment outright.
By harlot she’d not let herself be fazed;
she spied a house of mirrors on her right.
Her ticket paid, she slid into the dark,
the feeble light enough to warp her shape.
The first she saw elicited remark:
“Now isn’t this a fancy, an escape!”
In the reflection, she was round with child;
her hand was clasped with her small son’s as well.
The little one looked up at her and smiled.
She knew the eyes; it was hers, she could tell.
Shay turned to see her silhouette, but then
her belly shrank back to its normal size.
A nearby mirror stole her oxygen,
its taunting vision heaven… or just lies:
a warm horizon, one not on this earth,
and Shay could see herself there, far from home;
with her two hands, she made herself a berth
of stone and wood, a geodesic dome.
Just then, the lighting changed: the sun arrived,
and as Shay looked away to shield her face,
the fantasy was of her sight deprived
and so retreated, nothing in its place.
Shay thought she’d had enough of warps and dreams.
She left the house of mirrors in a mood,
uncertain of reality’s taut seams
or how much of the future she had viewed.
A clown, an acrobat, a bearded gal
and a tall, prancing stallion all passed by.
Shay followed closely to a small corral
where acrobat broke out a flask of rye.
The bearded woman took a mighty swig
then turned to face the shadows hiding Shay.
“Come over here, you pretty little sprig!”
Shay’s feet complied then, much to her dismay.
The whiskey went right to Shay’s head, and fast,
the laughter of the others ringing loud.
The present started blurring with the past;
Shay turned her inner eye away, too proud
to say aloud what swirled in her mind,
despite how much it made her tremble then.
Through haze of warmth, her fingers intertwined
in those of her true love, with her again,
but this time he refused to meet her eyes.
She felt the fear encroaching at her throat
and turned to him, now hoping to apprise
the tangent of their arching asymptote.
To her surprise, Shay found that he had tears,
a glimmer in his eyes she’d seen but twice—
once when his father’s death confirmed his fears,
once when his hand was caught within a vice.
“My love, I must—” he started, but the words
caught in his chest, became a choked-off sob.
Then he was gone, and in his place were birds
beating their wings, a frantic, feathered mob.
Shay tossed the whiskey to the bearded one.
“I thank you, but I must get to the gates!”
Ignoring their strange stares, Shay hurried, spun.
On quick, light feet, she sprinted past the Fates.
Into the night Shay plunged, free of the Fair
but haunted by the visions she had seen.
The thought of losing all, she could not bear,
nor could she let pass by her what had been.
And so when Shay arrived back at her place,
along with keys, she left pride at the door,
and went to find her love, to give him grace,
so they could weave their lives as one, once more.

***

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