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There is a resolute black seatbelt.
The thin aluminum rail
clinks to a close. It’s just the right
grip for a pair of anxious hands.
We swing up in the wheel, your first
such ride, and I feel what you
must: the vestibular system of
the earthbound body chirping

something is very wrong, the stomach
floating more loosely, giddy,
in the fluid-filled torso, the mind correcting.
And despite your fear of slides,
of swings, of bounce-houses
in their earnest garishness, you revel.
The view holds steady briefly,
as we rock in stillness,

fairgrounds churning with
the Friday-afternoon crowd,
cornfields patterning themselves
as they do in June.
Oh, small person with all the
tendencies I didn’t want you
to inherit—sensitivity to noise
and motion, weak lungs—

disciple of caution, I want you
to be able to hold two opposing
truths about yourself consonant,
the dread and the rapture.       
The whirling we do for fun
exhilarates, is an imitation
of the ones we can’t feel:
our entire solar system

hurtling on its orbit around
the galaxy, our movement
around and away from each other,
me dropping you off at school
returning in a circuit later that day.
Your feigned or real protests
at the separation, your squeal
of welcome when it ends.

Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash

Lisa Ampleman

Lisa Ampleman is the author of two books of poetry, Romances (LSU Press, 2020), and Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), and a chapbook, I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State UP, 2012). She lives in Cincinnati, where she is the managing editor of The Cincinnati Review and poetry series editor at Acre Books.