(Winner of The Missouri Review Editors’ Prize)
For twelve million years in an interstellar cloud,
a steadfast electron rode around
the velodrome of its atom, & for eons, too,
a tight nucleus orbited the axis of itself.
Then suitcase wheels turned down Wolf-Dietrich
Strasse. Bicycle wheels flashed below a girl.
She stands to pedal. Under the red wheelbarrow,
in rain, Ezekiel’s fire trundles through mud.
A whisper is a wheel, & translation, time turning
away from notions of an isolate self. I dreamt you
wheeled two lazy fingers round my breast,
amid billows & waves, cotton worn so thin
we tear it with the mere turn of our bodies, one
around the other. Unseen, minute whirlwinds
tumble down both arms of a pianist, & the struck
strings set wheels to the air they travel.
A striding boat unwinds lines of the fishers’ reels,
perhaps is a tumbleweed pushed ahead of a storm,
my typewriter’s carriage-return & ribbon spools,
gyres of a coming poem, & thunder, heavenly
weight, from the cleft spark rolls its bloom.
Like revolutions of waves twisting up the sands
& of the shores spinning back away, atria
& ventricles wheel tides of restive blood.
Even the rolling-pin of your diaphragm & rib,
an empty bottle pushed along our street by wind,
twirls under it the glassy shadow, sounding
praises of being hollow & on its way.
Carnival wobble, a Frisbee loosed by a snap
of the wrist—Catch, if you can! If the wheel’s an electron,
a pirouette, momentum of spin, & if by the not-yet
it’s lured to leap & change direction—
Quantum release! A hospital’s revolving door
turns out a brand new guest. She’s carried
in tangible arms. Turned, turning, we’re turning
& tangent, & suddenly this steep hill
is awheel under the children’s escaping ball, timber
rotates dark surf, earth’s both spindle
& a spoke spun round the sun, & our galaxy’s
a mixing-wheel of light’s changeling, love.