By Annie Woodford
It’s a long way to Hazard...
When I first read Don Quixote,
I was young. I felt sorry for the old man.
These days, I admire the generosity,
The glancing blow of his madness
And wonder how close I am
To his grace when I ride my bike
On busy streets, SUVs bearing down on me.
All I can do is pedal harder and pray.
Some days the world is transfigured
As I ride into an endless horizon,
Each branch and blade and grimy scrap
Turned sacred, eternal, humming with love.
I chant the chorus of “Nine Pound Hammer”
As I’m left in the whisk of passing cars,
I’m sure I look a raveled fool.
I grin into the wind and figure
There is nothing to be done but wink,
Hold one’s breath, and submit.
110 Beats (Fern Hill at the Skating Rink)
Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” has close to 110 beats per minute, and is therefore sometimes used to teach the rhythm of chest compressions for CPR.
Prisms spin in the hardwood floor.
My daughter glides and chops, skate-shod,
Her little girl legs a perfection of knees and narrow thighs.
The latest songs of yearning pulse around us,
As in my own days of weightlessness
At Air’s Skating Rink, where Freddy Mercury sang
And angels were centerfolds endlessly unfolding cashmere wings.
Air’s was all wooden. It was golden. It was timber.
The building, like the hull of a great boat or swan’s wide breast,
Was torn down years ago, the old boards scrapped
Despite thousands of lively nights.
These days the children wear rollerblades,
Float sideways in a way we never could.
The smallest kids, though, are still the fastest,
Taking the curves with crisscrossed legs,
Fingers almost brushing the floor,
Like my friend Lynn, who would slip ahead,
Carried by his own built up speed― slender, slouching,
His baggy clothes and brown hair rippled with flight.
I look for him in the children going round and round.
They flow around me like water, like airy spirits
And I think of my friend in his grave.
Then I put one clumsy foot
In front of the other and give chase to my daughter.
Wide Enough Spaces
I know a field
Between mall and church
Where mown grass
Lay in golden mounds.
Dandelions lifted into the air,
The day’s long light
Caught in their halos.
We ran bases
Almost lost to weeds,
My four-year-old daughter
Her shadow dancing Dark beside her.
Then she was five,
One day, an orange shape
In distant thicket—
A plastic Jack-O-Lantern,
Face turned away.
The scrub pines edging
The hurricane fence deepen.
We take the path
Winding the drainage ditch,
(A desire path, says Updike—
Dirt beat down
By shortcut seekers),
Behind the theater,
We hear booms
Or fragments of song
Come from within.