THE MILK BOTTLE LEGS OF THE HIGH WIRE WOMAN by Frankie McMillan

1

When I look at her legs I see upturned milk bottles, and I’m talking here of the glass bottles that milk used to come in and I love the shape of those legs, I could stay out all night on the frosty grass looking up at the wire and Miss Tatyana walking the wire in silence, only the guy ropes creaking and the twang of the metal pulley, and you know, those legs get my score, those legs belonging to Miss Tatyana all the way from Russia where they didn’t have glass milk bottles, only Mr Stalin, his mouth a hard line, his eyebrows a nest of ideologies that to tell you the truth wouldn’t suit a man like myself, a man who needs the freedom to pour his love into a vessel of his own choosing.

2

They say anything you love, anything of value is bound to make a break for freedom.

Some nights I’m afraid I will lose Miss Tatyana.  She’ll move on from the wire. Trapeze, maybe. Or maybe it’ll be the persuasion of a baby. In my dreams I throw her over my shoulder, gallop away with her on a horse. We get married in Porto, at night she wraps her milk bottle legs around my throat. When I wake she’s gone. My breath curdles into silence.

3

I wait for Miss Tatyana by her caravan. Under a cool mackerel sky, only the fin of a moon peeking out. She moves between the tents and down the alleyway. I catch a glimpse of her legs as she walks past. And here’s the thing. She knows I’m there waiting for her and she knows that I know she knows this and that’s why I remain hidden in the grass. And she sits, smoking on the steps and I’m lying spreadeagled on my back, useless like something poured out. Smoke drifts over me, I close my eyes and I swallow and I swallow.    


Frankie McMillan is a poet and short fiction writer from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her latest book, The Father of Octopus Wrestling and other small fictions ( Canterbury University Press) was listed by Spinoff, as one of the ten best New Zealand fiction books of 2019. 
 

Art by Bob Schofield @anothertower

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