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"The Carousel" Christmas, 1986


I had been fascinated with carrousel horses for much of my life, and I used Christmas as the opportunity to design a "Christmas Horse" and describe the magic of this most iconic of fairground amusements.

The Carousel

Easing in the wooden saddle
Grabbing for the pole
And leather strap
We see Bill just behind us
And Martha from the corner of our eye
Her dress rising above her knee
Mary Janes and high white socks
Through pumps and sensible attire
Up ahead is Roy
Throwing spitballs and planning a divorce
Bobby sits tall
A handsome tow-haired boy
Survived by a son who looks so much the same
We wonder if the boy will make it past his youth.

The gate is closed
And notes from the calliope
Start the middle range of horses
Pumping
Mothers
Wave
From behind a wall of helium balloons
Stuffed animals and cotton candy.

The outer circle
Of ambitious riders
Stretch
For wealth and fame
White lovers lost to secret thoughts
Huddle close in gilded chariots.

Those that ride the inside row
Find beauty
In the great cacophony
Of sights and sounds
The smell of oil and popcorn.

While others high on stirrups
Find in the dizzying whirl
The speed
The purpose of their lives.

All too soon
The ponies slow
And we are ushered back
As children
Business people
Grandparents and politicians
Lives just forming
Developed
Filled with hope
Or near the close.

Barely touched by those who ride
The carousel changes little through our lives
Perhaps a nick or scrape
But the illusion doesn’t fade
As we grow from four to sixty
The music’s just as clear
The colors quite as bright
And the mechanism grinds with all the same intensity.

Merry Christmas