“First the Children Stopped Asking for a Ride” by Claire Kelly
from the 2017 Poem in Your Pocket Day booklet
Based on Lisa Brown’s art project, Helios.
When you coat me with silver leaf
. and loose me on the prairies
. stripped of the faded-paint saddle
. that was all I knew of permanence.
. Mice in their soft nests heaved into the cold.
. Wasp nests smoked and scraped out,
. my head hollow as the bromides I tell myself.
What buzzes my core now, only wind.
I once thought the coins
. in my jingle-jangle belly
. were my comrades, but they never stayed,
. palmed hand to hand. Someone once
. stuck tasteless gum behind my left ear
. like a kiss. Now that’s gone too.
. What next, where bison ranged
and where the sun tries to sink
its silly-wolf teeth into me?
. Where I’m empowered but untouched, play-
. thing, now art. A finicky relic haunted
. by children’s boisterous voices.
. Rays bouncing off like whatever you say
. bounces off meee and sticks to youuu?