verse

Author’s note: an early version of this poem was first published in Issue 5 of Knockout; to order the full issue, click here

 

tumbler

 

she wakes up tumbling

(sky, sun, sky, sun, cloud)

to the sound of the wind whipping

past her face, to the patterns of frost

upon her visor, to the muffled latex

warmth of her own panicked breaths.

she thinks of drownproofing,

of being nine years old again,

playing trampolines

in the dirty back yard of a boy

with stringy hair

and pale blue eyes, a boy

who against all gods has

a name she cannot recall but who,

in sudden fullness, she will be

certain now she loved.

 

she wakes up tumbling

to the sounds of what last came

before the blackout: a lullaby

shrieking caution, caution,

warning, warning. pull up.

and beside her randy is praying now,

saying jesus, i’m sorry, jesus,

but he cannot reach it, cannot work

the handle with all these g’s.

he calls her meggie, calls her

oh god, and dizzy as she is

she believes it – believes in

failsafes, believes in falling,

believes in the fine February mercy

of gripping rubbered steel (pull up)

and counting to three.

 

she’ll wake up tumbling

now, for the rest of her life

– every time she opens

her eyes, looks out a window,

feels her husband come up to kiss

the back of her neck. she’ll think

of the taste of gunpowder, think of how

shapes look turning, streaking

smoke, disappearing down

into the clouds. and when it hits her

she’ll slam back into her chute

and draw in air, as if surprised,

as if dragged up out of a pond,

still gasping, into a quiet cold day

pale and blue. her seat falling away,

her feet kicking wild and swinging,

 

out over nothing.