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Camille-Yvette Welsch

The Four Ugliest Children Go To Cirque du Soleil

How clowns love them! So unexpected,
so many of them, four little Russian dolls of ugly.
Big fat boy, pale skinny girl, and a pair of twins,
twisted faces and limbs. Joy! The children heaved
onto shoulders, little devils on a perch, Parisian
gargoyles. Above the heads of the poor clowns,
the twins wrestle, forgetful of where they stand.
They see only each other, the orbit of struggle,
the other star in the universe. The crowd sits,
stirs, sighs, mouths agape. Ugly little miracles.
O clowns, this is a game of chicken you can never win!

First, the clowns flip a small woman, ass over tea kettle
as she clutches at her dress. When they spin her
the dress stays close revealing nothing of the suggested.
Then they march the fat boy up, lift his arms, prepare
him. The oldest boy grins, delighted. Perhaps
they will make his body move as he would like.
He waits for the strong arm, the spin of floor
to ceiling, instead, they grind hard fingers
into his stomach, tickle, tickle, fat boy
—we cannot flip you. The audience roars.

The oldest ugliest girl is not picked
by the clowns. She eats her popcorn,
watches the sad spectacle of her brother
returning to his seat. She looks neither
amiable nor otherwise absorbed.
The circus draws her with the trapeze
artists, a ball of connected
bodies, unfurled to reveal white dancers,
white tights, white faces, as if ghosts
appeared before the crowd,
flying through the sky. She would be cheaper—
no tights, no rice powder, just her body,
a pair of hands wrapped around her wrists,
her whole weight in motion. She could swing,
gain momentum, offer her hands like that.
She’d do it without the safety lines,
no fear of falling, the floor suddenly
beneath her, breaking her down. What is done
is done. Gravity cannot improve upon this design.
But the sweet distance of air, only the movement
of the body, not the body itself. Instead of her effort,
knotted muscles, shrunken limbs, they would
see movement, the flight she suggests.

The Ugliest Boy in Christendom Considers Bliss

If I were the first person in the new world,
symmetry would not equal beauty.

A face, split in half, should not
recast itself. That is a sign

of evil, doppelganger. In this new world,
I would be Adam, etymologist and poet.

One plus one would not equal two.

Nothing would be whole, no parts
would fit. All uneven pieces, we would tumble

lopsided, never knowing enough to miss
the perfect circle, the absent Eve.

The Ugliest Twins in Christendom Make Beautiful Music

Celestial choir of two, voices
rising above the pitch into pure sound as if,
at last, the heart found expression as fluid
and ineffable as feeling. Like water, the neighbors can
see through the sound, but as they reach for it,
try to grasp the sweet syllables, it slides
through the fingers. Caught unawares,
the neighbors rise from desk chairs and couches,
go to the window, examine the dim light
for the source of sound. When they view
the twisted faces, the gremlins of dissent,
they start, retreat back as if the mere presence
of those faces creates dissonance. The body
cannot make sense of God’s voice
in these mangled skulls. But the strange hollows,
the deep, deep sockets furnish perfect rooms
for sound, a round swelling that gathers
as snowballs do until the music bursts forth,
zephyr of the resonating cavities. In the yard’s
hammock, the twins sing each other to sleep,
staring intently into their matching faces.
Around them, neighbors close their eyes and dream.

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