The antique carousel spins
To the beat of one waltz,
Or another: DUM, dum, dum.
The children (ramrod straight) steal
Peeks at the ponies painted
Like clowns that grimace with
The pain of vanished pleasure.
We wave at the littles; we are
Proud, though we know not why.
They appear relieved to see us.
Is their grasp on object permanence
Fragile enough to permit this fear, of
Rounding the turn to find us gone,
Our coats and cameras, too?
As if we might have morphed
Into the toothless operator
With the crooked back and rancid smell.
As if they’ll turn ’round and ’round,
(Only the garish horses and
This waltz, one, or another,
As companions) forever and ever.
The children do wobble off the ride.
Some sob; some cackle with glee.
We wonder at these signs: they missed us!
As usual we are wrong, dreadfully so.
Just the other day we heard a waltz.
No memory returned. We voiced just this:
“Must be Strauss,” and carried on.