We shall all be changed.
Handel’s Messiah, I Corinthians 15:51
The broad aluminum expanse of you
back corners rounded like a horse’s rump
front corners rounded like a horse’s rump
your narrow back door with its screen and latch-handle
your tiny, purposely inadequate, windows,
what part of you, Airstream, does not speak?
What part of you does not promise Elsewhere,
promise that we can be taken far from here?
We can pack our hat, a change of clothes,
maybe a set of watercolors, maybe a book.
That, you promise, is all we need.
We can drive until we find the spot
of our dreams: the lake, the willow tree
beside which we will park you, unfold your three-step staircase
and carry out our card table and folding chairs, our sandwiches,
and it will be like the ancient Chinese drawing
“Horse and Willow Tree in the Moonlight,” you, Airstream,
the little horse bending to the blank space that reads as grass
because there are two blades of grass in the foreground.
Or maybe the horse feeds on the empty space.
The emptiness is enough to feed him, enough.
Or is it the moonlight that feeds him, the moment itself?
You, Airstream, being the horse, could explain this to us,
we who always want more, who always want change yet fear change,
we who cannot find the moment let alone feed from it.
But there, by the lake, finally, we would have no desire to be elsewhere.
Airstream, even here, tethered as you are behind a garage,
the front of you supported by cinderblocks and stained plywood,
reflecting what is near, you shimmer. Would it be too much, Airstream,
to say you sing? Your song is of the maple here with you beside the garbage cans,
its leaves flickering in the breeze. Your song is of the ladder
left leaning against the garage, of the forgotten orange work gloves.
These are not the songs we want to sing, Airstream,
but you promise we shall, we shall all, be changed.
“Airstream” is reprinted with permission from Trick Pear (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2007).