by Anthony Larson
On the edge of the fairgrounds,
it stands like a rock,
its calliope silent,
its gates under lock.
The wind whips around it,
a mocking cold thing.
The animals stand there
and know the cold sting
of time’s stolid arrows,
of life’s dragging way.
How empty the night is,
how lonesome the day.

Do carved wooden horses
remember their past?
Do lions and tigers
whose paint peels so fast
stand and stare blindly
and try to lay fault,
or hear children’s laughter
from Time’s open vault?

Do unicorns covered
with layers of dust,
falling to splinters,
threatened with rust,
cry out at unreason
and wish it were gone,
or savor the day
that comes with each dawn?

On the edge of the fairground
it waits for the rain
to wash off the silence,
cool down the pain.
And it waits for the day when
some purpose comes back
with calliope music
and joy in its track.

The world turns in its orbit
from winter to spring,
from summer to autumn,
for peasant and king.
And carved wooden horses
remember their past
and wait for their future
to come round at last.

Illustration by Bill Jackson