Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne


The first morning
they were just a little reddish
purple watercolor stain

My husband said
maybe it’s a sign,
I think it’s a sign,

I said, a sign of what
and then they broke through

and there was a little blood
but not too much

so I just put on a hat
with a wide brim

The second morning
he said why don’t you
join the circus

you’ve always wanted
to join the circus
and what he said was true

The cat wanted to join too
she walks narrow things
so we both went

At first we were hot,
sold out every night

Our own dressing room,
and you could tame

a lion with us, you could
do impressive things

But they kept growing,
I couldn’t carry them
and it was inhumane, really

how they wheeled me in—
the children cried

and when the cat
toed her way across

it wasn’t so impressive
anymore, we weren’t so
impressive anymore

My husband said
I miss you, come home

but we were under contract
and anyway

it still feels special
when you’re the only one
who can do something

It still feels special
even when most of your body

feels like the inside
of a fireplace

and when you need a mirror
to see the sky

I think it’s better that way
all that light
getting to shine twice

Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne is a native of southeastern Pennsylvania and a transplant to Tucson, Arizona. She has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she worked as an editor for Devil's Lake. Her work is published or forthcoming in West Branch, Hayden's Ferry Review, and other journals.