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Callaloo 25.3 (2002) 736

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Michael S. Collins

Flying, we cast a shadow on societies parading below
on their laws like acrobats on stilts: Naked, but bejeweled with roofs
And high thoughts, they tilted against each other.
We cast a shadow on oceans and on a herd of black clouds
corralled by a storm; and beside me, talking of horse races,
scratching out theorems on a pad, the bookmaker
said, "a system goes to hell if everyone follows it, if everyone
believes." And did we believe too strongly we were flying?—The plane reared
like a horse and went down, as if the angel of death had struck it
—and still the struggle went on in all those heads to bring the bread
of the future to the lips, to hold some great enterprise
together, or fire a thought into the head
of some dear one below—some thought of love
or reproach—until the plane broke the river's
frozen back—and opened a lane of fire
in the cold. In a moment some had grown
old and some were dead—as though their thoughts
had frozen in their bones and broken the bones.
Afterwards I half disbelieved in life
and in my heart thought we were all under the river,
walking upright among the fishes.


Michael S. Collins is an assistant professor of English at Texas A & M University in College Station. He has published poems, articles and reviews in a number of periodicals, including Callaloo, The New Leader, Parnassus, and Salamander.



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