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Secret Circus
Jennifer Lothrigel

In her body—
Each night a secret circus.

The roaring tiger wears her pink tutu, 
reaching her arms fiercely out in front of her
revealing her nail polished claws, 
doing precisely and perversely
as she was trained.

Tiny field mice carrying striped flags,
parade across the tender floor.

Skinny women in ruffled leotards
soar through the air on the flying trapeze.

The bearded lady makes a 3 minute appearance
wearing her red dress and
smoking the last centimeters of a cigarette.

Doped up elephants saunter their heavy bodies
around in circles,
trapped in hell and soulless.

After the show, the tiger declines requests for interviews.

Tickets to this show
are sold on the black market
by shady business men in back alleys.

After the show, minimum wage workers sweep
the littered aisles
enough to hide the filth ̶
sliding empty containers and spilled things
into dark invisible crevices.

Then morning comes again,
the girl awakens,
all three eyes wide open.

Pink princesses and sequined wands
make material things feel more real
than nightmares.
Soft stuffed animals with loose joints
paw the surface of her skin,
some kind of strange reassurance.

Jennifer Lothrigel is a poet and artist residing in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in Trivia - Voices of Feminism, Narrative Northeast, Poetry Quarterly, Firefly Magazine, Cordella Magazine, We’ Moon and elsewhere.