I opened the trunk. That strange old trunk, brimming with treasure. Old and oft handled. Fabric full of holes. Smelling of circus. Not an American circus. Oh, no. Think of France. Think of tight rope walkers with parasols. Think of a a girl doing handstands on the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower.
I waved to the crowds below. To them I was but a figurine. Not real at all. When I came down my costume was torn. I was grimy and sore, but alive with applause. It hummed in me all day, then faded away – and there I was. On the street. Begging a stranger for an apple or money.
“Poor orphan girl”, they thought.
At night I would prowl the banks of the Seine. Sometimes walking on water. Voices of the holy sisters flowed out of dark and into aching muscles. By morning my clothes were mended and clean. The sun came up. My face kept grinning. I climbed angles of bridges, spires of cathedrals. I sang out a melody percussive and sweet. I started a brand new show. One that began just because it had begun.
My body fit forms I never knew existed. From the tippy tip top of a sailboat’s sail I would sing and swing and fly with gulls, circling and silvery. My life was sun reflecting in water. I cast sequins with my eyes. They loved my show, and they loved me, the way one loves a zebra on the run. An exotic beast of beauty, prancing by, then quickly gone. But the image — the image remains in the eye of the mind. Who cares where the zebra sleeps or if the lion licks bloody lips?
Yes, I opened the trunk this morning. I looked through it all. Gently held clothes that crumbled in my hands. “Dear God, what is this?” I tried hard to remember.
I am what they call middle aged. Perhaps I am common, scrubbing the kitchen floor, yelling at the cat for pooping in the corner, wishing my husband would fix the leaky sink. I look out the window. I smell the breeze. Yes. I smell me. That other me. The lost one. I see her saunter up the road, juggling four duck eggs and whistling an unearthly tune. Isn’t she something in rags and flowers? She comes right up to the window, wriggling her nose in curiosity. Perhaps disgust.
“Have you seen my frog? My mother? My canary? Lady, where the hell am I? This is certainly not Paris!”