A brittle privilege, this perambulation. The trainer trails his whip around the ring, sack of meat at his hip. The big cats pace. He places steak on tip of stick and, one by one, the cats each sit—tigers, quick; lions, with thick tails, more stiffly. The crowd, also seated, roars. We too have served our time on all fours—the precedence of of crawl before stroll. The trainer picks a sleek beast. Drumroll. A twitch of orange ears. The stick lifts. Then the swift shift to standing. Trepidation of balance. Invisible strings shuffle hind legs across an unfixed brink. This, we think, is our domain. Oh proud cat, paws mauling bright air—the little poodle does this trick with ease. Later, we the people will rise into the stars and stride the wires. Through gaping gravity, we will swing—aping—on the trapeze.
Mary Quade Mary Quadeis the author of two poetry collections, Local Extinctions (Gold Wake) and Guide to Native Beasts (Cleveland State Poetry Center). Her work has been awarded three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards for both poetry and prose. She teaches creative writing at Hiram College.