Two Poems by Sarah Brown Weitzman
A Carnival Comes to Port Washington
Reality studied by the reel, despite two features once a week
since I was nine, had not prepared me by my fifteenth spring
for that week-end carnival poled up on Farmer MonFort’s
extra ground, the first in my peninsula town where,
except for library afternoons and films, I lived a village death.
But Saturday night among the tents and crowds and stands
and strings of electric lights, it was dark enough for mystery
and fortunes in crystal, Tarot cards and tea cup leaves
and one slim chance man, who made me think of cities,
long satin gowns like Gilda’s, gangster mobs and
the sophistication of Lon McCallister in cowboy boots.
He offered me small silver risks for a golden opportunity
of carrying away a soft memory of all this. My age
slyly misguessed by him to be eighteen cost me
another quarter to win that compliment.
The night was a churn of rides and soft ice cream,
the carousel, cotton candy, jellied apples and The Whip.
A fever all day Sunday so my mother wouldn’t let me
out of bed even for the movies but Monday running
a devious route to school, I went back to find
brown cores and apple sticks, deep caravan ruts
and a rubble of broken lights – the lot that had planted
the lusts of Araby in me once again a fallow field.
Climbing over the farmer’s fence
I mount the hill path
running all the way
to reach the crest
and take sudden
the whole shock
of that autumn valley
in one surprise
the dogwood’s scarlet spread
the singed ash
elms exactly orange fire
among the paper birch
one golden oak
now coin silver
apples ruby late
upon the branch
pines that do no turning
as though this quarter meant to hold
all hues of man’s seasons
to full fruit and in between
in this last flamboyant protest
but brought to me stealing
and after-school chores
that bond all may share
But then running through fields
tingling my town legs
past flurries of bees
and brown butterflies
all wooing and winged
like myself I fling
down the hill into apple air
and musk of old baywood
some hand had sawed
from potatoes unearthed
to dry to where
straining against the fence
are the farmer’s four horses.
Not the first untouched crystal
nor spring’s green sameness
nor even summer’s academic freedom
ever pleased me
so as that October valley journey
in memory now become not journey
but an end.
The farmer died.
His family moved to the city.
That ground soon grew nothing
The horses were sold
Sarah Brown Weitzman, a past National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Poetry and a Pushcart prize nominee, has been published in hundreds of journals and anthologies including ROSEBUD, THE NEW OHIO REVIEW, POET & CRITIC, THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, THE BELLINGHAM REVIEW, RATTLE, MID-AMERICAN REVIEW, THE MacGUFFIN, POET LORE, SPILLWAY, MIRAMAR, etc. A departure from poetry, her fourth book, HERMAN AND THE ICE WITCH, is a children’s novel published by Main Street Rag.