So you have trouble shifting,
have trouble, are troubled,
you can’t quite manage how to make the leap,
even if it is not a leap really, but just a step,
or not even that, maybe a sitting up rather
than a lying down. Yes, if you have trouble
because you imagined her face so differently,
and now she is in front of you and her hair
is not even close to the fine perfection
you carried in your mind, not the auburn
you had pictured, and her eyes are misaligned
but so slightly it’s not worth mentioning. And
now she is in front of you, right here in front of you,
and you are married, and in the other room
of this house that you always thought would be
bigger and more rustic, in the other room, there is
a child whom you assumed would play the cello,
or at least the guitar, but mostly the kid
seems to stare out the window. The kid is a dreamer.
And that wasn’t the plan. And you go off to work
every day and stare at yourself staring back at yourself
in the train window and are surprised because,
boy-oh-boy, is it hard to make the shift between
all that you imagined (you were a dreamer) and
all that really is, and could that really be you…
the guy with the tie and the crow’s feet and the glasses
in which there is an even smaller reflection of you
staring back in disbelief.
The woods are oaks and spread their woody fingers over us.
Paint peels on the aging signs, this one a toothy squirrel
holding up a paw: You must be this tall to ride alone.
The girl running the carousel is a madonna, that serene.
Tickets are 10 for 10 dollars and curl in the hand like a pet.
Music falls out of the smaller trees, splashes and evaporates.
You must be this tall to ride alone on the child-sized roller coaster,
the tilt-a-whirl, on mini airplanes, on dervishing tea cups hot to the touch.
The bumper cars are broken, heaped together in a junkyard pile, and
the painted eyes on the squirrel are the almost-blue of skim milk.
The boy running the roller coaster can’t stop looking at the carousel madonna
while her horses lift up and down, leather reins worn to brittle strips.
The airplanes have names like Thunderbird and Thundercloud and
there’s no waiting in line here. Two kids on that ride, one on this.
Under the roller coaster, weeds with feathery leaves bend and flower.
Music falls out of trees and into our laps, a little sticky, a little cool.
The rides click and whir, creak to stops, jolt to starts.
The oaks spread their woody fingers and pattern the pavement.
The roller coaster boy has left his post and whispers his plans
into the carousel girl’s benevolent ear. She smiles, still serene, and
takes the curled ticket of a child who runs to find the perfect horse,
who cannot imagine a more shining moment than this.