Engine Attitude


In the park, as the baby bird wanders the ground, crying,
the engine of a boy’s curiosity makes him crouch

stick in hand, which starts up the engine of my protective heart,
somehow stronger now, older as I am

and the owner of a pet, which is not a child,
no, parents smirk, nothing like a child,

but the engine of my need
to be stalwart for a small thing

suggests other objects might stand in

as my love, playing his chess,
in this here park, scolds

You can’t lose what you never had,

though I’d argue the child we’ve never tried for
is less like a ghostly atmosphere

and more like an engine
that falls forward even if nothing is there

like object slips to objection
or affection shears to mere affect

as a rotor spins a wheel which moves another wheel
until he puts a stick in the teeth

because we naturally desire to arrest
what is arrestable

just because is the engine of
just because just because just because

that’s the way things go.

No. Turn the engine against itself.
That boy is chasing the baby bird.

It’s too young to fly
I tell him, tipping forward,

so the baby crawls to me,
its wings digging into the ground,

following the engine of my voice, which is just
because I am just,

because, because, because.

Ruth Williams