Sending A Child to School
Crossing the street
a child was struck today,
there were no sirens,
no EMTs pumping chests
giving mouth to mouth,
no crowds gasping
at the disfigurement.
No — nothing like that,
she floated away
from the hands that held her
like a butterfly
cupped between palms,
just enough space
between fingers to see
the sheer wings
opening and closing
pawing at whatever was calling
Come out! Come out!
You know how it is.
When a child steps
confidently into traffic
there is only so much time
to pull mittens on,
tie their boots,
wrap their scarves,
before they go
headfirst into the fury.
Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to
never was there
–Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
After a merciless day driving through sleet
and oil-dark slush, navigating icy patches
fifty miles or so north of Dayton, Ohio,
selling my wares, industrial tubing and lubricants,
in the heart of nowhere, rural, bible belt towns,
where white-steepled churches and brick schoolhouses
rose like black-winged angels out of the vast prairie
flatlands, beside the gas station and bowling alley,
across the street from Angelo’s IGA, Hilvert’s
Livestock and Feed, the Minster Septic Tank Co.,
there, in the fading light of a winter afternoon,
heading home, bone tired and hungry, wet snow
coming down hard, wiper blades humming, I saw
barbed wire fences for miles, distant houses
shadowing frozen fields, crows toeing powerlines,
an endless chain of red lights crawling on the interstate.
Mike Pantano has had work in Third Wednesday, San Pedro River Review, the Museum of Americana, Gravel, Flint Hills Review, and elsewhere. He lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio.