Encircled

In the arena, on the circus floor, banked up around,
I stand exposed, flaws open to be scrutinised,
encircled by all those for whom I ever cared,
whose opinions break or else sustain me;

Fearing judgment, knowing disappointment,
I catch their taloned eyes of expectation
that ask only if I will conform to norms –
or would I let them down?

What do they see? What do they want of me?
What effect will they still have?
Contained in them, I’m not obliged to kneel;
but I am constrained, neutered at their hands.

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