By The Skin Of Our Teeth

Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (Degas, 1879)Pretty soon now, we’ll be holding on by the skin of our teeth,

like Miss Lala at the Cirque Fernando: suspended above

a terrifying drop, as we reach for the impossible

(which has to be possible) under the warm sunset ceiling

of our current predicament. We could always shimmy down

that inviting lifeline to where we started from, but what good

would that do us? And it’s too late anyhow. We know we should

have followed a wiser course of action; as the white-face clown

sheds a false tear on our behalf, to acknowledge the feeling,

which is genuine enough. But it’s much too late to stop now.

Even if it is death-defying, we still must be trying

as hard as we can, because the alternative doesn’t bear

contemplating. Hating it will get us nowhere. Only Love

can save us, from the horror that this circus gave us. Wave us

goodbye to La-La Land, and let’s take firm hold of the tiller:

there’s a storm that’s brewing, and it’s going to be a killer.

We must steer the course boldly between Charybdis and Scylla

– and we might, we just might make it through by the skin of our teeth.

Tony Walton


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