The Diameter of a Ringling Bros. Circus Ring – HONORABLE MENTION


            after Yehuda Amichai


The diameter of a circus ring is forty-two feet,

an arena large enough to contain three elephants,

three performance stands, two trainers, and

a ringmaster. And inside this ring, each elephant,

upon her designated turn, turns circles around

the ringmaster as he cracks commands with his

ceremonial whip. And no more than ninety feet away,

eight other traveling elephants wait in a steel-

barred cage of insufficient measure. And in this cage,

they hear the cries of their sisters as they perform

a shuffle around the ring, their soft-soled feet scuffing

dirt into the circus air. The caged elephants shift and

shoulder each other, bellow back, setting off a call

and answer of all elephants, a shared chain that

becomes wild notes rising and falling outside and

inside the big top, where the master’s sharp whistle

sends children scuttling closer to their mothers, and

the mothers circle their little ones with rounded arms

as all the elephants repeat their circle of song. And

the song rings and rings and lingers even after

the canvas walls come down.


Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Phases of the Moon (Finishing Line Press), and has been published in Grist, Adanna, Gargoyle, Mudfish, and The Widows’ Handbook. She received a 2011 Delaware Division of the Arts Fellowship Grant for Emerging Poet, and in 2015, a DDOA Grant for Established Poet.