Tightrope walking

The trick is to not look down.

The trick is to find that still place deep in your belly,
and hold it firmly,
and let the world move past you.

The trick is to look straight ahead,
to the end of the rope.

The trick is to make nets,
festoon the world with tightly woven webs
so that if you fall, you’ll be caught,
held gently by your own foresight.

The trick is to hang above the void
and sparkle.

The trick is to keep it balanced –
work and life and kids and friends and keeping fit
and what’s for dinner and the school run and facebook
and shopping and sex and cake to take into the office
and ringing your mum and cleaning the bathroom
because you’re so wonderful and so on top of it all.

The trick is not to mind the pain.

The trick is to hold out your arms.

The trick is to hang suspended and smile
your brightest smile.

The trick is



I’m the ringmaster at dVerse tonight, where we are writing poems on a circus theme. Do come and join us!

35 thoughts on “Tightrope walking

  1. This is a terrific poem–you are woman & we can hear you roar. It is a performance piece. I read it aloud and it works well; nice job. Thanks for hosting.


  2. I took the ‘sequin’ solution to be ironical. On the lines of give her a bit of glamour and she’ll shut up, what she wants is a night out from time to time and she won’t mind the rest. I might be completely wrong…


  3. AH, this is so well done — the tightrope walk through life is all about keeping balance. This is quite refreshing and evocative in its relation and identification with the modern way of living.
    I am also somehow reminded of the grimness and the life-death struggle of the balance that never stays in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.

    I love this bit: “festoon the world with tightly woven webs/so that if you fall, you’ll be caught,/held gently by your own foresight.”


  4. The repetition of ‘the trick’ is effective in your extended metaphor, Sarah. I know that feeling of trying not to look down, and that still place deep in my belly, I find myself holding it firmly every time I leave the house. You’re right, ‘The trick is to hang above the void / and sparkle’. I suppose sequins can help – but not too many – they can dazzle a bit too much! 🙂


  5. Now this is how to use an extended metaphor in a poem! I love your use of the opening words “the trick is…” And this is the money line for me: “and shopping and sex and cake to take into the office …” Wonderfully done, Sarah!


  6. That’s a very clever poem. I like the way you relate walking a tight rope to the job of being a modern woman coping with the demands of busy family life. I love the line “the trick is sequins”. There is a kind of magic to the juggling act a mother performs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very nicely written — stepping out on the trope which becomes the perilous rope a complicated, all-at-once mom has to walk. And those sequins, masquerading as smiles … perfect.


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