On the County Fair

by Marissa Bennett (Malone Univ.)

First Place

The Ferris wheel
Rocks back and forth,
Knocking children’s 
Knees lightly together,  
Leaving their laughter 
Floating down 
To the peanut stand 
Where Al and Sue  
Display their matching 
Ducks—the two drakes 
They saved from the chilly lake
This past May 
(The one with record lows
And snow forecasts). 

Mallards, not quite blue ribbon worthy but still
A sight to see.  

The Thompsons tug  
Their purchased steer 
Toward the spigot 
To drink.  
His tail flicks
The flies into their faces,
The youngest son  
Pushes his rump,  
The oldest swats  
His haunches.   
The steer stands still 
And lets out a  
Low groan of indignation,
Flopping his head in my direction.

And I sit here at this picnic table,  
Waiting for you.   
The splintered wood digging
Grooves into my jean-clad legs,
The dusty ground coating my boots  
In a murky layer  
Of Slushee syrup,  
Trough water,  
And mud leftover  
From the squealing pigs
And you—you snuck off an hour ago
To smoke a joint 
Behind the sales barn,
The skunky smell masked 
By sheep shit and funnel cakes.
Then you stood in line for the Ferris wheel,
Even though it makes you sick.  

So I sit here and pretend not to see you knocking 
Knees with the blonde  
From two towns south 
And manage  
A smile when you stumble across 
The crowded midway  
And throw up all over 
My boots.