Jane B. Rawlings is Archivist at a 19th Century historic house museum, after careers as a teacher, housewife and mother.  She writes and lectures on women’s history, and her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The New York Times, Ikebana International, and Atlanta Review, among others, as well as several anthologies.  She has been reading across the country from her acclaimed novel-in-verse, The Penelopeia (David R. Godine, 2005) 

 

Jane B. Rawlings '59



More Than We Bargained For 

 

but how to know to back away

from the carney’s table with its tokens? 

 

To have a child, for instance,

is to begin serving a life sentence, 

 

the fortune-teller says—some time

in Sing-Sing, some in the mad house, 

 

much, when we look back, on a Coney Island

Steeplechase. We start at the Tunnel 

 

of Love, which leads to the Hall of Mirrors.

Then come the Bumper Cars, with rides 

 

on the Merry-Go-Round between.

Each time it stops we beg to stay on 

 

for one more song. But the barker says

we must sample all the rides 

 

before closing and next

comes the Parachute Drop. 

 

You know what I’m saying—

the Fun House isn’t always fun, 

 

but at least there’s cotton candy

for the ride home. 

 

 

(U.S. 1 WORKSHEETS, 2000)