Size / / /

Eileen didn't like the clown:
He was too wobbly,
and his heads never looked away from
                                                  her cleavage.
She was proud of her development,
but no one likes to be stared at.
Though it was kinda hard to say if he was really
I mean, she thought,
                    what does he actually SEE?

The elephants were better;
the gray pebbly skin was quite realistic, and if
the creatures had just been a little bigger,
the simulation would have been almost uncanny.
She wasn't sure about the gait,
never having seen a real one, but
it looked ponderous enough.

Her hosts had really tried,
she told herself,
and resolutely turned her attention toward the center ring.
(Though here again, the ring wasn't round,
it was octagonal, if that was the right
word for an eight-sided figure. She was almost
sure it should be a circle.)
No matter: the ringmaster was just inflating --
The main event was about to begin!

Something trotted out with four or five
adorable little creatures trotting along behind.
They could almost have been dogs;
that's probably what they were intended to resemble,
she decided,
though why did they have so many legs?
Now the dog-things were doing all sorts of amazing
tricks with wheels of fire, greased poles,
flaming paper birds, and the like.
Maybe they couldn't get rid of the extra legs.
There were so many limits to the fabrication process.
They'd been explained to her more than once, but
she really didn't understand.
If Mum and Da were here--
Stop! She told herself firmly,
and looked sidelong at the Escort, but it hadn't noticed.

They ARE here, really, she told herself firmly,
and so are Billy, and Captain Mkumbe,
and the Wang sisters, and that other
guy (she couldn't remember his name anymore,
but he was Russian, and very tall).
Just like me, she thought for the first time.
I'm here too, all of me,
not just the part they were able to
reconstruct. She smiled for the first time since--
Anyway, she smiled. I had a happy thought!
She hugged that to herself,
trying to remember what book that was from.
Something about pirates. Maybe they could
make a pirate ship. That
would be even more fun than a circus.
It really would.


Copyright © 2002 David C. Kopaska-Merkel

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David Kopaska-Merkel was born on the ancient and mysterious world of nehwemos, but emigrated to Dirt at an early age. Passing most of his childhood irritating wildlife and avoiding work, Kopaska-Merkel found himself unfit for any occupation other than geology or writing. He pursues both in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His previous poems in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. Visit David's Web site for more about him, and lay in stores for the future at his cafépress shop.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel won the 2006 Rhysling Award for a collaboration with Kendall Evans, edits Dreams & Nightmares magazine, and has edited Star*Line and several Rhysling anthologies. His poems have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. A collection, Some Disassembly Required, winner of the 2023 Elgin Award, is available from him at
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