Where he finds his people gathered, the Prophet
will speak of the last great wind and the trust
of birds, he thinks, as he teeters into the gusts
like a crow, his black suit coat blowing
behind him. Closing his eyes, he spreads
his arms and imagines gliding toward where,
from the woods beyond town, he hears
the raffle and laughs of some summer fair.
Walking a road that follows the curve
of rapids, he sees the first sign, nailed to a tree
above a group of white deflated balloons,
pointing: This Way to the Community Fair.
Unable to cross where the river’s grown wide
before the falls, the Prophet watches the fair
from the other side: rows of children,
some stepping gently, others in a jaunty dash,
trying to balance eggs on plastic spoons,
beckoned by cheering adults with blue ribbons.
Clowns follow close behind the little ones
with cartons of eggs. One kid’s, then another’s
topples and splats. Some try to catch the falling
ovals, one kneels over crushed fragments,
hands down in the golden goop, and starts to cry.
Cupping his hands to his mouth, the Prophet shouts:
Children, it will be like this for you
in the breaking days, carrying the fragile world
of your birth through the distance and wind…
but drowned by the river, the roar around
the ribbon winner, the honk of the clown’s horn,
the Prophet’s voice doesn’t reach them,
except for one child who stops crying
and stands in the field of shattered eggs
looking across the river in his direction.
The race ending, he turns to receive another egg,
walking slowly, guarding it with his life.
today’s world, yet one we are all familiar with. His use of the carnival in contrast with a serious
messenger is one that grabs attention and shakes us awake. - Raegan Flikkema, age 16
--Robert Fanning, from American Prophet (Marick Press, 2006)