The fairgrounds smell of woodchip and whey, the petting zoo’s dank tincture blending with popcorn kernels pressed deep into shoe treads. The carnival rides are touch-and-go wash your hands, flashing LEDs obscuring August’s airglow with kaleidoscopic colours. The Zipper’s down, the Tilt-a-Whirl too, undigested corndogs yet to be squeegeed down the honeycomb metal grating. The fortune teller’s tent is plain-Jane, not the gaudy purple velvet I’d come to expect, only half-burnt out Christmas lights for decoration, hardly enough to glitter the gloam. A black cat bristles at a couple of toddlers trying to touch its coat, fingers cotton candy resined. I chase the kids off, the cat weaving between summer-slick calves, nuzzling my left palm and I wonder if it’s been treated for fleas, rabies. The psychic hisses at me through canvas drapes, bodiless voice harsh as a smoker, a joker, a midnight toker playing over loud speakers and I’ve watched enough Final Destination films to avoid the attractions, to avoid going into her tent. “You know the future,” she says, and I’m not so sure that I don’t, I just don’t want to. All the MASH games and paper cootie catchers in grade school augured little other than my love life, how many children I’d have, where I’d live; I’ve yet to marry Justin Timberlake, but I always landed on zero kids, an apartment, the life of an academic or artist. The moon’s eclipsed by the Ferris wheel and we’re all shadow shapes now, stuck in the flux and flow of an “Ever-Expanding Universe” like cosmic dust bunnies, and I could take up fortune telling myself if I know as much as the psychic claims, a bunch of hullabaloo, but I’ve got a bad feeling about the Strawberry ride, that it’s time to leave, and sure enough, a little girl’s been scalped, hair caught in the machinery and gears, ripped off from the eyelids up, I feel my confections coming up the way they went down. Nothing’s coincidental.
Jenna Lyn Albert is a recent graduate of the University of New Brunswick’s creative writing program and an editorial assistant at The Fiddlehead. Her poetry has appeared in The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Riddle Fence, The Antigonish Review, and CV2. Her debut collection of poetry, Bec & Call, appears with Nightwood Editions this fall.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan