The Dream of Flight
and other poems
Three Girls at Play
The smallest of them had the best technique. Down in the bowl of packed sand,
she spun the chained tire swing around her body. The girl on board
was astonished at the mad rush of air; the other girl said, "How can a girl
who is so small make it go so fast?" The long hair of the girl on the swing
flowed around the tire in blurry trails. Her laughter tickled all living things.
The smallest, standing now to the side, with her hands on her hips,
replied, "It's a tornado." To show them her limitless power,
the little girl got down into the bowl and made the swing
an argument among powers. A whirling cloud of dirt met
with the sky, and there was a roar like a freight train,
which tore at houses, lifted up grasses, dashed cars.
A straw was driven through a wooden post.
A cow was deposited in the playing field nearby,
where in a few moments the second girl
would ask to be delivered because
her brother was playing baseball today
and the three girls could play,
only if they stuck together. The
youngest looked into that tornado,
into that rift of time and
already had her reply ready
when the swing came
to a stop.
"You go if you want to."
On this summer day
every lush thing aches
with song. I practice empty
movement here among the ancient texts,
a devotee of all that is holy
the aural shimmer of leaves
the arching bowl of blue sky
the gaze from an ageless sun
My mind, quieted -
I have lost my mother tongue
I stand in the light that was light
When language came to be.
The Dream of Flight
Time was the morning
would come like a slow dream
the wonderful dip and swerve of flight
melting into the one-inch bar of butter light
beneath my shade. I would rise from my bed
with the magic still in my bones, my eyes
matted and new. My arms outspread
like an acolyte of superman; my mind
coursing with vision. I ached for the sheet
on my back, my cape. I could not eat fast enough
to get into the day.
The sun floating like the eye of a terrible pagan god
and there I stood on my neighbor's porch,
waiting to believe that I could fly.
Looking out over all that concrete,
That vast sea of gray doubt, I knew
that it was a matter of mind
over matter. I closed my eyes and waited
to believe, and when it came, this solid erasure
of doubt, this clear-visioned feeling of lift,
I crouched as low as I could
For one clear moment, there was a joy
as soaring and pure as does not exist in the world
of time and decay. My heart refused to beat.
My lungs refused air. I was ready to unmoor myself
from the mortal tether completely.
Lying in bed that night
my reattached tongue swollen and stitched
I learned the first true lesson of epistemology:
You cannot suspend doubt forever.
you wonder whether
it was a bomb
that claimed the use of my legs
(soldiers running in eerie purple light;
broken concrete, screams, angled pipes)
a car accident
that shattered my spine
(twisted metal, flames, jaws of life)
or a bullet
that left me mostly paralyzed.
(tires' furious howl, sirens, camera lights)
each of these scenes, romantic
in its own way,
makes you pity me.
what else is there to think about
while waiting in line?
the trip takes a lifetime
my head bent
my hand on the wheel.
I am not
concerned about time:
I have nowhere else to go,
nothing more to do
I refuse to stay inside
with my furniture and
pictures of my life on the walls.
seeing me here,
part of you feels empathy,
while another part wonders
whether it was a bomb
or a bullet.
though your face, so neutral
betrays no emotion,
you wonder whether it is safe
to pretend I am invisible.
it is, of course, but
I am not.
© 1999 Steve Mueske
Steve Mueske is an MFA in Writing candidate at Hamline University, where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in English and Philosophy. He has published prose and poetry in electronic and print journals such as Satire, Wisconsin Review, Renaissance Magazine, Seedhouse (January 2000) ForPoetry, SalonDAarte, Mobius (November 1999), Poetry Motel (Fall 1999) and Still (Fall 2000).
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