Lanterns, colours, prisms of glass,
music, heat, and animal smells.
We giggle through the Hall of Mirrors
and with butterscotch sticky fingers
pay our pennies to the Bearded Lady.
We’ve seen the Polish Giantess
carrying Anita the Living Doll,
every year we gasp
at the feats of the Lion-jawed Man,
but new for 1845 is the Mermaid.
Half woman, half fish,
she waves from her murky plinth-raised tank,
flips her scaly tail up for us to see.
‘She’s real!’ the Showman cries,
‘We have her baby here!’
And he reveals a skeleton in a velvet-lined box.
Fish bones – like from Friday’s scrapings –
fused to a frail ribcage,
two straw thin arms,
and a tiny grinning skull.