We play at the past,
leaping inside the bouncing fortress.
They say at this age
you’re faced with yourself—
you return like planets,
older even than the nobles
who used to fuck and fight
in bastions like these.
While we jump, a double rainbow
promises a messenger, or doesn’t.
Under such auspices we forget
our debts, our doom, our nothing
yet to mortgage—our twenties
in the twenty-first century.
In the garage someone flips a switch
and the castle’s heart goes silent.
The viscous early summer
sucks in the lavender battlements,
the gates implode as the palace exhales.
We sip our beer. Is this pleasant,
watching the bounce house fall
and rise, topple
and thrum to life again.
Over and over its spires collapse
like a closing hand,
clutching the strange people in its palm.
Now you see it, now—
we chuckle and say cheers.
When the laughter fades,
the walls begin to hum again.
The castle’s denizens call out
from under the turret’s heavy lightness
and the towers rise once more.
We save each other. Someone
has to end the trick, has to bring back
Caitlin Cowan‘s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in Gulf Coast, Cold Mountain Review, Redivider, Nimrod, Faultline, The Mississippi Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She has been the recipient of the Mississippi Review Prize, the Ron McFarland Prize for Poetry, and an Avery Hopwood Award. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan, an MFA from The New School, and a PhD from The University of North Texas, where she worked as a teaching fellow and served as the Managing Editor of the American Literary Review.