"The Basketball Court as a Place of Worship" by Marta Lee acrylic and oil on canvas 36" X 36" 2015

"The Basketball Court as a Place of Worship" by Marta Lee
acrylic and oil on canvas
36" X 36"
2015

ANDREW COLLARD

Elegy with a Red Wagon

In floodwaters, the fire ants
of South Carolina will link their bodies
to form an island, floating
over drowning cars and streetlights
like a funeral. I’d like to light a candle
for the dead like everybody else
but am afraid my hands would shake,
not out of grief, but out of hunger.
When I was young, the old man
told me that the ancient Greeks
had named the constellations, but the stars

don’t make me think of them
or anything, except my smallness. I’m fragile

as the ghost of clouds dabbed in
around the moon, a chemical reaction
of spilled colors forgetting
what it means to not be choking
what I say I love. My daughter
climbs up my back in the parking lot
and says run, daddy, laughing
like Christmas morning, like
all our relatives are still alive
and watching by the well-lit tree, like
our relatives that are alive and watching

still want to be with us, but I’ve outgrown them
like the swing set at my childhood park,
my legs too long to pump, the swing set
that I dug beneath to make room
for newfound height, uncovering bricks
buried in the soil. I found twelve,

all told, and brought them home
in a little wagon, but always wished
I’d found bones from some dinosaur
or ancient creature, something rare and coveted
enough that it demands a photograph
for proof, or preservation: something
I could hold, or stand for
that refuses to accept itself as gone.


Andrew Collard lives in Kalamazoo, MI, where he attends grad school and teaches. His recent poems are forthcoming from Mid-American Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Vinyl Poetry among other journals.