The rail grinder

The stars come down with the screen of steel -- 
galaxies thrown wide, sound and fury.
The rail grinder pares the iron road
to perfection, if you survive it --

You are melting in the forge, the kiln stoked--
You are broken and remade anew
your impieties crumbling, charring--
You are coal. You are liquid. You are struck

again and again, thirsting for oasis,
a bucket, an ocean, a pond.
When steel meets steel, even the rocks burn.
You are perfection, if you survive it --

The horses race the cursus of your heart
panting, redfaced, burning with sweat. You are
running freely now, hurtling toward the wall
the iron horse that cannot slow, oh!

Eyes cannot assemble the pieces.
The scene: Guernica. Here is your nose
stuck to a knee, a black braid, an eye,
the angles folding like a pocket map--

All the wicks are lit and the pillar
seeps through the cracks in its glass cage. Watch
the wax as it hardens, making shapes --
Your name, written by Madam Tussaud

and a gun. The night horse hurtles toward
the horizon in parallel lines
now gone to flame. Red for recession--
grinding us down, if we survive it
Guernica by Pablo Picasso. 1937. Oil on canvas. Via Wikimedia Commons

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