MULTIPLE CHOICES

                                                When she sleeps
                                                Everything depends
                                                On all the wheel barrows
                                                Except the red one.

                                                      – James Galvin (“As Is”)

A hard life of war and pestilence, I imagine
urchins and ragamuffins á la Dickens or Swift,
poverty and hunger, rancid blues on every breath
across the tracks in the old part of town—
I don’t know. I don’t go there anymore.

And I don’t see the boys I went to school with
either, each with the accouterments of their success.
Perhaps it is the railroads that divide us,
East and West, fulfilling promises to anonymous
stockholders and high-paid athletes.

But in between, she sleeps this side of the moon
rising, quivering in the perforated blackness.
Her silhouette, a supine range I see breathe
some evenings and I imagine generations
of women who have watched here before me—

and believed. That is the crux of it, of course,
believing in more than rich or poor, seeing
the pieces in limbo lean together and hold
until she awakes, stretching into dawn
with each turn she makes around the planet.

And first light, the crow and hawk sweep
the yard for casualties and the tardy.
A coyote studies a calf left alone.
But not all of our totems report for duty—
there are some that wait to surprise us.

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