The Machine

Back in the Dark Ages,
before the afternoons turned
to curdled milk,
we had a machine
made entirely of wood,
stained to look like iron
& greased with bear fat.
It creaked something wonderful,
like a house full of crickets.
It was easy to operate at
slow speeds, the idea being
to fit one’s body in among
the upright rocking levers
& dance with it, dressed like
a Siberian shaman, spool
for the spirit world’s
high-wire act. But
I made it go too fast
& it flew apart.
I found myself lying
alone on a hillside,
under the speechless stars.

10 Replies to “The Machine”

  1. For some reason I keep envisioning this as something like a children’s book, lavishly illustrated. Perhaps because it’s just so darn visual. I love it, too.

  2. I get the definite impression you would like one, or at least to try again.

    The bear fat part is especially good, and “creaked something wonderful.” I don’t quite understand afternoons turning to curdled milk, but it sounds good with the rest of the poem, and I figure I ought to be able to imagine it.

  3. Thanks for the kind words.

    Dale – I didn’t think of it as having a moral, but you’re right – i guess it does. If you want it to.

    Dick – Actually, the most direct inspiration was Jean Gimpel’s fine history, The Medieval Machine. Europeans have been obsessed with gears and levers for close to a thousand years, now. The Romans thought such things were only fit for children’s toys.

    MB – I tried and failed to find a good illustration for this post. I guess it didn’t need one, from what you’re saying.

    Beth – You mean the afternoons don’t do that where you are?

    (Oo, a winter wren just sang right outside my door! Love that.)

    Lori – Hmm. Maybe I should start charging…

  4. the wood was rubbed with used motor oil for that dark Teutonic finish…carbon in solution, a slight sheen, water beads up…ask me about this in person.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.