He smells cooked sugar and old oil on blackened gears,
Hears rattling and laughing and distant voices—open maws;
Feeling nothing all along, petty joys, small lights, nor fears.
The rest laugh at him gleefully,
While he will say, ‘Not I, not I!’
On the rollercoaster, they tempt their lives with fate
And scream and close their eyes in cold fright.
But the floor will drop, and they’re too late—
It’s a test of faith in metal tracks and chains
Pray the cart will stay confined to its lanes!
Why do they laugh?
They know inside, at least the older ones will know,
That the cart will stay on track and slow
And stop before the ride has ended.
I smell the oil, and cooking chars sting my eye,
They call this amusement and child’s play—open hands;
Yet I can’t laugh it all away, for here… here am I.
I notice—O Lord, can’t be true!—that there are no tracks;
There are no rails, no chains beneath these wheels.
Wheels; there is a wheel at my seat, and cushion on my back
And a passenger beside me—
For my life, I can’t recall her name.
Even her face drifts from my mind… her name?
The bumps rattle this cart—thu-lump, thu-lump
The lights shine on this car, and scatter like suns.
What will I do, though, when the floor falls out beneath me?
For I want to close my eyes,
and breathe deep,
and fling up my arms to heaven like the child on the park ride.
I am afraid, dear child, I am afraid!
I want to close my eyes, but then who will drive?
Not I, I pray, not I!