The body of the passenger is metallic red,
very much an alien, slick and shining, a bulbous head
straight out of a 1958 martians-have-landed movie.

But the luge itself is shaped only for the wind,
sleek and angry looking, a bright missile shooting down the ice,
blind with speed.
This is no mama possum, trodding along gingerly,
the hide on her lumpy back fine-tuned
to her hairless pink rat babies and their cupped crochet-hook paws.
If one of them flopped to the ground, sightless and shivering,
she would U-turn like a big awkward boat, lumbering back
to the panting lump of chewed pink bubble gum in the grass.

No. This rider is on his own,
his body and bones assigned to no one else,
least of all the heartless luge, which he knows
could fly off without him, free of its burden.
He hangs on, vibrating like a space traveler enduring re-entry,
head bobbing convulsively, hands white-knuckled to the sides.
Inside his grimacing skull he knows that the most crucial demand
is the most bitterly impossible: RELAX.
But he must convince himself: I am limp as a sleeping dog
in the dirt, a gutted hare flung over a fence,
a drowned gray body on a beach.

All the while hurtling past walls of ice,
screaming around curves like fire up a strand of hair,
the world an opalescent blur of insignificance.


Originally appeared in Tamaqua
© Julie Price Pinkerton- All rights reserved.