(I recall its bright conception, how it felt to touch it,
let it go & watch it spin—)
I rode it in a fever:
Bright bolt of cloth pulled through a metal ring.
Rode past a white farmhouse. Its black door gave it distinction.
(No deception in winter.)
Rode past a black dog locked in a corncrib.
Snow piled in spinney ridges along branches of tree and bush.
(The toy spun on—it was a mechanized bird
with turning wings, amply greased.)
Rode through a truss bridge high over a dry creek.
Rode past switch tracks and farmland in parcels.
Rode in the train car slabbed by sunlight.
Eventually we rode through a low wall of fire.
It burned in the ditch-like cradle of the berm.
It burned on my window’s side for an hour.
Burned in molten undulates, sending greasy black clouds billowing.
I watched the fire burn down the oily ridge.
Watched it through the window as long as I could stand.
(The toy spun on—) It made a mansion of my senses,
rooms on fire and windows breaking and curtains flapping.
Despair is a one-note song, so I plucked it up with crazed
happiness and counterpointed high vertiginous trills.
And crossed the Mississippi River head on fire—
A chaotic host of choirs assembled in my chest.
The muddy river spanned a mile across.
At the center, I felt a shifting in myself.
Something central unfolded symmetrically—
fixing the East behind, the West in front.
It centered the flowing river always in-between.
(The bird’s wings stuck in a state of mechanical shuddering,
then came unstuck and lurched to face the opposite direction. )
And I began to laugh and laugh a crazy laugh,
recalling what had come before:
the barking dog, the farmhouse door.
(The toy spun on, the gold bird preened and gaped its metal beak.)
I laughed and laughed a crazy laugh withdrawing swiftly from the East.
As the bird sang songs in apogee, hopping circles on golden feet.