portion of the artwork for Martin Galvin's poetry
Mummers’ Day on Broad Street
New Year’s in Philadelphia

Martin Galvin

Five months ago I caught three crickets
in a box. They’re pesky little guys
who will jump right at you for the fear
of it. With us old hands at fakery
it rarely works, the flim-flam mummery.
I eased them back into the cave of night,
expect them to return again any day now
to try some tricks they learned from snakes
and moles that slip along without a light
to guide them but their own.

One snake I know, with no defense but art,
will flip onto its back, pretend it’s deader
than a deadman’s threat. The heart
will slow itself to sleep, the lidless eyes
roll back into the trees, the feckless tongue
drool and dribble like a toothless man’s.
When a snake acts so, it’s best to let it be,
tell yourself there is nothing left to kill.
First time I saw this act, I didn’t know.
That snake reared up like a killer, fanged
and furious, and scared me so I wet myself.

Between the cricket and the snake I live,
the same as you, between the dark and light.
We welcome New Year’s with the mummers,
practice playing dead when we have need,
break when we can into a rollicking dance
of sheer shenanigans to celebrate
what ends and what, from ends, begins.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 35 | Winter 2012