Thursday, January 6, 2011

Lusus Naturae

They were born with legs but no arms.
Arms but no legs.
A body that stands alone.

There were pinheads and worms, bearded women and clowns.

We watched with fascination though slightly cracked hands, watching with horror, watching with sorrow, looking with a mixture of disgust and pity.

The claw-footed man. The freak of nature. The DNA that mixed and morphed. The body that was tangled and torn. Beneath the tent they were the wonders of the world.

The amazing twelve fingered man.
The magnificent musical stylings of Max, Block Head.

We came for the hot dogs and cotton candy. Came for the beach. The waves and sun, the slides, the lights.

They hide, not in the shadows as we would all expect, but beneath colorful canvas tents that announce their arrival. We wait for the right time, letting the lollipops sit, letting only parts of our imagination wander into the tent. When we finally move through the parted doors, we find nature staring right back. Birth and bodies in all forms, hands that have twisted and turned into tails. Legs that are arms and hands that are ears.

Their bodies point to our own destiny. It is not all two feet and two hands. There are variations in the middle, some that twist, some that never separate, some that never grow. I look into the mirror, looking through cracked hands that cover my eyes. They are words, those bodies, those things, they are words stripped of love by the candy-eating crowds.

They watch us through bars, through social walls made of heavy brick. Babies stare, mothers cry, I watch through the thin cracks between my fingers. Cross yourself and pray. They move from field to field, town to town, carrying their lions, their tricks, their wonders. They are the freaks, sparking stares and quick glances, sudden bursts of curiosity and horror.

This ticket allows me to look. For thirty-five minutes and a paper ticket we stare at the distortion of nature, the wonders of the planet, the amazing freaks of the sideshow. One ticket and the world opens its sleepy eyes, the people that hide from missing toes and extra eyes.

We who call ourselves normal, who hide our perversions and defects. We who have no extra arms, but carry everything inside that begs to rip apart and turn into evil eyes and sword swallowing demons. All of nature twists inside us, turning and re-combining, turning us into mutants.

Soon I will don my silver sequined hat and fishnets. Soon I will be Lydia the tattooed lady. Soon I will be the wondrous mystery from Egypt, the gypsy with three eyes, the mother of twenty snakes.

Soon the hidden cracks will leak, the hands will spread wide and our true selves will pour, decrepit and slow, hissing as we meet the wind. There will be secrets and slime, muttering and new positions added to every act. Soon it will all begin, but for now they stand alone, the freaks beneath the red tent.

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