Empty Racetrack, Early Morning
Empty, except for a single horse crossing between
The grandstand and the barns, the rider in shorts
And a sweatshirt, the thoroughbred’s lanky pace,
Long lines.  You’d like to think Degas, you’d like
To think what it’s like here in summer, the silks
Of the jockeys, the crowd, straw hats and sun-
Dresses, but it is almost fall, this is practice, not
Perfection, not the sudden break from the pack,
The lengthening beauty of a stride, that long shot
Coming home.  This is what you do in a fallen
World, a controlled trot around the barren enclosure,
Hoofs striking the scarlet of downed maple leaves,
Feeling for a halt in the gait, a muscle’s reluctance,
Injury’s insistence, something to be worked out.
What else was the curse when the garden gate
Closed, but this careful labor to make right what’s
Not and never will be.  Oh, if it is love, it is not
Something nuanced, fine, and selfless (or more
Than the less the self is).  It is the love of a parent,
Desperate, for the wrong child, the one drifting in the wind
Of his own distracted discontent, the one we couldn’t
Save, not exactly, any more than we could ourselves.
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