Lucilena Williams

1970 Farmall 140

Running down the river road at dusk,
heat trapped in the pavement for another hour or so,
I came upon two dragonflies, pinwheeled,
their bellies stuck together. Graphic,
their greasy bits, flew this way and that,
caught the last light in their doubled wings,
hovering over the gulch beside the dead and flattened raccoon
where the road turned a lazy half-circle,
the corpse decomposing for weeks,
bone structure slowly clarifying
as flies ate down the matted hair and flesh.

That night, we pared the tractor down,
our eager hands removing its guts, headlights cockamamie,
screws and washers rattling, blackened oil leaking
out its belly. We grunted against the pressure
of the springs, arms propped against the foot-lip,
filthy knuckles whitening around the screwdriver.
One person summoned delicacy to grip the shiny keeper
in thumb and forefinger, prizing the strange beast
apart. We buffed and greased each screw,
rubbed the head in circles, popped apart the gaskets,
restored the mighty headlights.

In the darker night we blew fireworks
off the charred stump, our dirty fingers lighting
fuses precariously, piling the rockets higher.
With one or two beers down, and smaller rockets
launched in the dusk from the cool, wet lips of bottles,
we climbed the silo to shoot missiles at the moon,
and clambered through the fields hallooing
at the next farmer over, in front of us lightning bugs
dancing furiously down the river road
illuminating the bone-pearl raccoon
and setting fire to the Queen Anne’s lace.

Lucilena Williams writes and teaches at the University of Illinois, where she is an MFA candidate in poetry.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí