by Jessica Siobhan Frank
Cubs at brewers
July 26, 2004
I heard that they came back
with three runs in the seventh inning,
Lee, Martinez, and Goodwin
crossed home plate and Santos was pulled
after that. Milwaukee never caught up
and the Cubs won at Miller Park,
a gorgeous July night with the roof open,
light breeze blowing out of the ballpark.
They won, but we lost
a baby that day, a wanted baby.
I drove myself to the hospital
an hour away that morning
and you met me there,
finding me in the dark
of the ultrasound room just in time
to hear the bad news.
You left for the ballgame anyway
and I spent that night alone
laboring through the waves of grief
and doubt as I waited in pain
for the inevitable to happen.
But it was a perfect night for baseball.
Hippos once walked down Water Street
like leashed poodles guided by a handler
from the river to their pens.
In Ringlings’ town, cast and crew
from the Greatest Show on Earth
came home to do laundry
and raise families. Big top stopped
to make supper, attend church
rest until it was time to go again.
Skills kept sharp like swords down
a trained throat in backyards,
juggling at twilight, fire-eating as the kids
caught lightning bugs, and in the winter
mending a trapeze net or rethreading the tightrope.
Clowns had bank accounts;
lion tamers saw tax attorneys.
Railroads slowed this golden show,
its gilded age gone by. Circus wagons
called home to rest in warehouses.
One by one, the staff found other work
or moved away. Some got jobs
at the museum, punching a time card
past a mural with their likenesses.
In the summers now, grandsons
tell tourists the bedtime stories
they were told of the last generation
of noble Baraboo peculiars.
The big top rises along the river
for a few months each year,
a tip of a ringmaster’s hat
to this town’s proud roots.
The last full-time performers
are aging fast at St. Clare Meadows,
high enough in the hills to watch the sun
dip down behind the bluffs,
the crown of the tent gleaming
like the hot spotlight and they swear
they can still hear a calliope car heading into town.
Jessica Siobhan Frank
Jessica Siobhan Frank will be graduating with her MFA and MA from McNeese State University in May 2018. She’s done a lot of weird stuff in her life, like play a game on the Bozo show, be the subject of an NPR story about family dinners, and appear in a Blaine’s Farm and Fleet commercial as “Foosball Playing Wife.” Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter (online), The Poeming Pigeon, Cliterature, Portage Review, and several other publications. She is a former newspaper reporter and still makes ends meet because she knows AP style. Originally from the Chicago area, she called Wisconsin Dells home for 14 years. She currently lives in Lake Charles, LA with her three children, who all wish there was a Culver’s nearby.