“there were no balloons back then” the autumn fair says with a wistful smile

i, sketching the basel skyline..

i, sketching the basel skyline with the ferris wheel, set up for the autumn fair..


fivehundred&fortythree years grown,
candyfloss leftovers in the gaps between her teeth
she smiles at me

slightly yellow
as the sun presses her cheeks
yearningly into the stream

from the Martin’s tower
churchbells ring, pulled by a man
with a black glove only on his left hand,
he will get the second when the fair ends
two weeks later

sound of hooves on cobblestones,
dewy breath caught in a whirl of light,
cheering kids&monks in grey frocks
walking the city barefoot

“take me on a ferris wheel ride?” she asks
a shy smile almost hidden
in the crevices around her lips
juice of fresh baked apples
on her chin

round my hips
backpack straps
carry burnt almonds, pottery&spices,

her eyes change color
with the movement of the wind

“how were things back then?”

she grins,
lost for moments
as we walk
side by side
a dog barks

achoir of pans&crackling fire, an eagle’s glide,
a fishwifes’ merry giggles–

“much like that” i think
as the ferris wheel spins


through the night


Gay has us writing “Fair” today over at dVerse
The first Basel autumn fair took place in the year 1471


34 responses to ““there were no balloons back then” the autumn fair says with a wistful smile

  1. there’s still the magic of the past there – and how delighted children must have been, no TV to compare too. Every costume must house a star.

  2. Nice feel to this. I like the personification of the fair, her yellow teeth. I associate a fair with candy. I felt like I was eating some.

  3. Truly magical Claudia. You put words on a page and make them a visceral experience. We can taste it, see it, smell it… I can almost touch it.

  4. Nice touch of nostalgia – and yet I’m always suspicious of people who think everything was much better in the past. And yet it’s so nice to succumb to those traditions – I love the way you weave them into the poem.. and that red apples theme going through the verses as well.

  5. i like all the detail you put in this…it really makes the fair come to life in my mind….esp like the sound of the words from crevice of lips/around hips/ all the way up to the dialogue, but there is nice internal rhyme throughout….there is a nice rhythm…your personification is cool up front as well…like someone you would want to get to know, because you know she has stories to tell…smiles.

  6. Oh, what a cool photo of you sketching, Claudia. And you have captured the temperament of the fair…and how so much remains the same over the years. And the ferris wheel squeaks timelessly. Nice.

  7. … the fairs in Europe were my best play grounds … there was always food and work … my family mixed in well with the “Schaustellers” … smiles …

  8. A throbbing beauty, this one, C.; taking the prompt & stirring up the sweet poetics of the past, personalizing it; one of your strongest poems in months, worthy of being placed in anthology or book. Like the stunning lines /achoir of pans&crackling fire, an eagle’s glide/a fishwife’s merry giggles/. Just breath-taking, wonderful, beyond mere praise.

  9. What a neat place for women from six centuries apart to meet! I love the mix of sounds and sensations that keep both from staying lost. PS: Thank you for your comments on my Dead Woman poem!.

  10. I think it is great that those fairs have both survived and changed so that they are still relevant and loved by people. Very nice photo, Claudia!

  11. My heart leapt as I read this. You captured the color, the texture, the essence in this poem, this ode, this elegy, this heartsong so musical of yours. I fell in love with every line.

  12. Gorgeous! You hit many high notes with the sun pressing the city’s cheeks, eyes changing color in the wind, fishwives’ giggles and more; I thought I heard the music of Fellini….such a talented poet you are…

  13. I haven’t been on a Ferris Wheel in some time but, the view was always amazing as you could see the whole fair. I enjoyed your writing as always 🙂

  14. Sigh. I loved this. Love the young girl’s enchantment, and her enjoyment of the best things about fairs, cotton candy and candy apples (my teeth ache just thinking about them.)