my mother was a chinese trapeze artist lyrics – decemberists

my mother was a chinese trapeze artist
in pre-war paris
smuggling bombs for the underground.
and she met my father
at a fete in aix-en-provence.
he was disguised as a russian cadet
in the employ of the axis.
and there in the half-light
of the provincial midnight
to a lone concertina
they drank in cantinas
and toasted to edith piaf
and the fall of the reich.

my sister was born in a hovel in burgundy
and left for the cattle
but later was found by a communist
who’d deserted his ranks
to follow his dream
to start up a punk rock band in south carolina.
i get letters sometimes.
they bought a plantation
she weeds the tobacco
he offends the nation
and they write, “don’t be a stranger, y’hear.”
“sincerely, your sister.”

so my parents had me
to the disgust of the prost*tutes
on a bed in a brothel.
surprisingly raised with tender care
’til the money got tight
and they bet me away
to a blind brigadier in a game
of high stakes canasta.
but he made me a sailor
on his brigadier ship fleet.
i know every yardarm
from main mast to jib sheet.
but sometimes i long to be landlocked
and to work in a bakery.

/ decemberists lyrics