Samuel Magee & Rings One Two Three

Every ring of the circus held delights for all of the boys and 
all of the girls, especially this, the Greenboro & Snyder Bazaar. 
When it rolled into town the night before, everyone had stopped 
and stared, this was a real royal event. Every train car held a wonder 
and was topped by long flowing flags, which whipped in the 
foreground to the great plains sunset. It was Greenboro & Snyder, 
here at long last.

Along came the caboose as parents down the line shoved 
hands deep into their pockets, turning up nothing but corduroy 
and empty overall. But the last car gone saw children spin on their 
heels and begin to tug on those same overalls and hems of mothers’ 
dresses, their faces all bunched up in excitement, shrieking and 
dancing in their wanting way. Mother and father exchanged that 
look that said they’d be digging into jars and lifting up mattresses 
at home that night. The children ran on ahead while parents walked 
together, “We’re in the wrong business” they laughed and shook 
their dusty heads.

Back home they had to be stern that night to get the little 
ones into bed. Said things like “I hear the lions only roar for children 
who turn in on time” and so away the children went into dreams of 
clowns and trapeze, though the younger ones had never seen, older 
sisters and brothers told tales just a little tall: the elephants grew, 
the human cannonball shot so high as to never be seen again.


The next morning the school house was a hive of giggles 
and anticipations and “I can’t waits.” All except Samuel Magee. 
Third row second seat, who sat with a particular look, see he wasn’t 
sad, but he didn’t share the buzz. On the steps before the bell rang 
his peers had poked and jeered, wasn’t he excited for the show, wasn’t 
he gonna go? He looked calm and said “No,” because he knew he 
had already seen all the show he was going to see last night by the 
line. While all the other kids just couldn’t wait for the next night, 
little Sam had taken it all in. Arms hanging at his side, eyes wide, 
he remembered the sound and smoke of the engine, the bars on the
cars through which he saw blurred animals and a trunk poking
out here, sticking out there. He saw the painted ads of clowns and
curiosities, it all made Sam giggle.

But when the caboose called out “See y’all at the circus,” 
Sam’s little hands found his pockets. He knew there would be no 
extra nickels or dimes for his parents to find for such a thing.

But even when the school day was over and the show had 
begun, young Sam didn’t lament he was on the wrong side of the 
tent. The things he had seen last night by the tracks had been 
amazing for Sam, and he had seen more than every other kid, 
because for him, the train passed slower. And that was his own free 

Now little Sam couldn’t tell you if you asked him why, but 
I know it has something to do with how much you expect; waiting 
for something else to enjoy as the show passes you by on the tracks. 
Because you see, the little sips are the very best taste of the soup if 
you’re not waiting to gulp