Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-six
Winter 2014
Red Tractor
Lainey S. Cronk

I could only imagine the colors of the streets,
gleaming navy asphalt, dusky purple overpasses
melting into emerald curves,
all invisible under shining lines of traffic.

Every car was silver — pewter, smoke,
chromium, gray — all glistened over spinning tires,
a river that never paused, slowed, breathed, or eddied.
All this went on for hours
and in all that time I never saw the road.
In all that time not a butterfly blossomed
in powdery death on a luminous silver windshield.

Then, like a heart attack, like a whale
suddenly happening in a decorative creek,
came a red tractor. Ordinary mud clung to its flanks.
Tires turned so slowly I could see each hump and gap
of massive tread, between which shone the road,
spreading into view like a pool of blood
around the tractor’s feet as pollution
spat and simmered from its rusting chimneys.
The silver river must have backed up for miles,
vaguely recalling the Children of Israel,
but I had eyes only for the soiled crimson beast,
an old and ordinary thing that possessed
with ponderous progression,
around lightly graded curves and under broiling
overpasses, thick with time, slow
with self-determination. What does one do
with a red tractor — a ridiculously rhetorical question
for there is nothing to be done
except to watch, and breathe the fumes emanating
from its greasy, inching heart.

About Lainey S. Cronk

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