The magic wheels spin like gossiping old tongues
Glistening, glittering, glinting, but mostly creaking
Light and dirt fleck off the two big wheels as they rotate slow with rattles and bumps
Each at its own pace with starts and stops, one free just when the other is stuck,
And upon the splintery boards in quiet pride sits a chariot rider
Her spine supple, bending and straightening between shapes of chased cat and queen
With every uneven fall and rise from the muddy spring dirt below.
Survey, like a woman from a fairy book, the passing houses, the gathering villagers.
She knows most of them, she’s seen them
Tumbling, chasing, flirting, bickering, muttering, hobbling,
And carried out to the field where we all will lay.
“I have never sat so high, and may not again until I die
Twice I will be carried through the town.
Today this hustle and bustle is all meant for me.”
Many wooden wheels in vanished seasons in the old country
Rolled through villages
The carriage with the girl, dressed in her mother’s best
Which was once her mother’s mother’s best
To meet a boy in black,
Little grey dots of sweat in his palms
Where stigmata might have formed
In the palms of one called to another kind of devotion.
At a wedding, double stops make twice the notes from one bow
So the fiddler relies a lot on them.
Everyone will be hearing them soon.
“Can we make a union that is in harmony?
That plays notes in a song that others will wish to hear?
Or will he wander away from me, a solo voice in the course of days or years,
And close his melody in holy books
Or in gambling at the edges of town?”
And as he hears the approach of the crowd, the boy wonders,
“Will she wander from me, tittering at my failings like rattling wheels
Along with the girls I didn’t marry,
As their shapes turn bulbous and treacherous like muddy roads with time
Bruised to break the spine of the broken old rider I may be
Then will she still sing with me?”
And across the crowd, on the planks, in her locked throat,
“And if the squeaks and bumps of the two wheels below me today
Are prettier than the notes we’ll ever make together
Let my own voice, when I’m not silent on the carriage
Let my own voice, rising above the thrashings
Let my own voice be two, let it unite in harmony with itself
Let it sing one melody that contains every melody that has ever been written.
On my own I’ll still play
If we cannot play together.
The men are nodding as I pass
A curl at their lips that I am not for them
But I’m joining their world, leaving sisters behind.
And I remember generations and centuries before me,
I am them, and also I am.
“Above the rattling wheels, the sun flecks through the trees,
Floral rays dance into my eyes and my mouth
And the smell of the horses wakes up my blood.
Both my hands are tingling hot and
I’ve as many fingers as I’ll need
To grip out as many chords as were ever heard across chilly air
As two wood wheels below buckle and groan the corner to the mounting celebration
I know if I must I will learn to sing double stops
Built for harmony,
I have a body
And I want to sing it to the whole world.”
July 22, 2020