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Troupe Song

by Emily Rosko

Beggars, actors, buffoons, and all that tribe.—Horace

Our ride took the shape of an old whinny,
all temper and steeled, stayed
but for the kick and the hay. Not

to be hitched. It was a maddening
method, an exercise for the muscle,
a wayfarer’s way for us three. We walked

the long haul. Him as the makeshift, me as
the sap, you as the heroine properly voiced
with accord. Falsity’s icon. Rein

and shoe. All for play and no
transport, though we jigged our own
terrible message—plague and drought

to your crown and thorn. Golden trifle
over-handled. Oh, you’re good
for something I hope! A bitchery

of bags to travel with! All the wisdom
says the strong head only flattens
the pillow, but they’ll go ga-ga

over the sepia dye tones of your hair,
your canary feebleness—a little tap and tune
adjusted for the count. One, two, three . . .

The dancer’s toes remain the ugliest instrument.


Emily Rosko is the author of Raw Goods Inventory (University of Iowa Press, 2006). Her poems have appeared recently in Cutbank and Diode and are forthcoming in Hubbub and Pleiades. (10/2008)

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