The acrobats were packing up the show. They untied the high-wire, collected hoops, poles, buckets, horses, dogs, a lion, two seals, the bearded lady, sand, fire and water. They emptied all of these into one enormous bag, coloured blue, like the sky. The largest acrobat zipped it up. The girl in the tutu and the red-nosed clown massaged it into a rucksack, which the strongman hoisted on his shoulders. They set off, at a quick pace. They could not see me. I had been hiding in an old shoe, behind a rock. I could see the rucksack on the strongman’s back. It seemed to shudder and breathe, and made the sound that a thousand starlings make every autumn evening in a certain coastal town in another country.

From Sad Giraffe Café (Arc, 2010)

‘Acrobats’ at Granada International Festival, Nicaragua, February 2011.

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