Carousel

Lives lived backward, I’ve sipped and sucked upon this thought before

Its fizz bites me on the paper rim between lips and fountain soda pop.

Across the baseball diamond, my dad rests on a chain link gate.

From the back, he can go backwards.

His bat could be a cane against his hip,

Gray hairs only dusted,

Now belong to the anticipated lean of a little boy.

Long years waited to be called up from the fields.

And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down

We're captive on the carousel of time

In summer shaded evening I match a flicker of lightning bug lights,

Struck upon a match head of worry that somehow they’re less.

Eggs killed, laid deep inside the ground.

“I thought we were in a dark place, but I used to see the Milky Way,” he says.

My dad holds a graph of where the night lights shine less bright.

Out the window, I miss the galaxy brightened memory I can't remember,

Mourning green, flung out stars dead and buried.

Seeping, chemical spray,

A net unseen cast for darker bugs.

And perhaps for those too, clustered high around stadium lights.

And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down

We're captive on the carousel of time We can't return we can only look behind

We climb the grandstand steps through layers of fried food smoke.

Floating dreams.

“No one bothered to paint this,” Dad says looking at his feet.

Paint is peeled in white to gray layers.

It’s less in the middle, under climbing knees.

It’s more in the rows, under silent heeled beats.

Dragging feet.

Everywhere the music booms, there’s too much space.

And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down

We're captive on the carousel of time We can't return we can only look behind

From where we came And go round and round and round

Tree branches cracked down.

Flowers twisted high.

Lights in colors that don't match pushing back the night.

It’s a fair not a fairy land.

I’m not ten, nor twenty, nor thirty.

But, the carousel’s still there.

Last year, I watched my niece climb onto her pony’s back

Her mother by her side.

And the seasons they go round and round And the painted ponies go up and down

We're captive on the carousel of time We can't return we can only look behind

From where we came And go round and round and round In the circle game

“Carousel,” my dad says.

Maybe because the county fair has come to town.

I Google Joni Mitchell’s song.

But when I read the lyrics,I find it’s called the Circle Game.

It’s not that lives live backwards, but that new starts in the middle,

And I should climb those steps to take a ride.

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