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The Busker


The puppeteer darted in and had his black cloth strung waist-high,
pole to pole across the Métro car, before the doors even closed.
We were standing to the front of the carriage but a bit behind him
and could see only his right side, where a tattered tricorn-hatted Punch,
his toes bobbing like a boxer’s on the curtain wire, walloped
what must have been Judy dangling off to the left. We could see
the puppeteer’s right foot thumping the pedal attached to a hi-hat,
the battered boom box that provided the rest of the soundtrack,
and the open cardboard box where the marionettes not in use
were collapsed in a heap as if they’d been shot and dumped in an unmarked grave.
After performing for three stops, he was gone as quickly as he’d come,
swooping up players, instruments, and set at the first squeal of the brakes
and out the automatic sliding doors the moment they fully opened,
his sateen cape fluttering stiffly like a flamenco fan in the rush of forced air.



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