FIRE AND ICE / STEVE BERTOLINO

 

 

—in friendly defiance of Robert Frost

 

They say that even the universe makes music,
a rumbling B-flat lower than anyone could ever hear.
I think of God having a subwoofer hanging over the workbench
in the garage. He takes it down to install it in a ’57 Chevy
or one of those powerhouse cars from 1962, an Olds 98
or the Plymouth Valiant, and spends the morning hard at work.
He takes the car down the street like the old men in summer
who putter along in their restored babies. Even the few
who kept some humdinger roadster in mint condition for decades
will, once or twice a year, if you measure the day’s humidity
and when doubled it’s exactly equal to the afternoon temperature,
neatly fold back the dustcovers and take the car out for a spin.
Look at what I have, these men seem to say.
Look at this fragile, intricate thing I wear gloves to drive,
my hands at 10 and 2, my shoes covered with rubber slippers.
Look at how beautiful and rare all this is.
God gives a small smile – no beard and his white hair cropped
in a crew cut – as He eases the Valiant out of the driveway.
At the end of the street He turns on the radio and then the
subwoofer.  The world, overcome with sound, flooded
with sound—it isn’t with water again; He’s kept his promise—
the world goes deaf and our mouths hang open.
Like we’re watching a silent movie, we see God laugh in delight
but we can’t hear it, as the car shimmies and shakes
and starts falling to pieces all around Him.

 

 

 

Steve Bertolino lives in Vermont, where he works as an academic librarian at Middlebury College and serves on the executive committee for the New England Young Writers Conference. Robert Frost had a long history in the area, teaching at Bread Loaf for many summers and owning a cabin nearby. The library staff playfully refer to him as “Bobby” and an old recliner, radio, and a moth-eaten sweater from his cabin are on permanent display there. Steve has poems published or forthcoming in Brevity Poetry Review, Soul-Lit, Right Hand Pointing, Big River Poetry Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Red River Review.

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