Wheels Within Wheels
A Prose Poem
Jennifer Angelina Petro
The wheel of death turns, crushing everything eventually in its iron teeth. The inevitable Good-bye waits just behind everyone you love. Death and taxes are the only certainty, they say, in an ever-changing world. Every breath breaks us down, little by little, like a walking hour glass. All things end in suffering, they also say, from their cushion on the floor, where they carefully fold their legs, like a smug giraffe. As the grinding wheels turn and the paint peels invisibly at first, from the walls of your security, I am here to mention, in passing, there are other wheels turning their great, unceasing mechanisms.
The wheel of life turns, powered by the water of baby’s laughter and morning bird-song. The inevitable Hello waits just behind every stranger, flower, tree, and prayer. Birth and bliss are among the many certainties in the arms of the Beloved. Every breath builds us, like a walking tree absorbing light. All things, so few say, splashing and stomping in puddles of rain, end in halcyon days of being held and nursed by eternal love. As the wheel of life turns, and barns are raised, and fledglings fly, I am here to mention, in passing: joy is a certainty too.
The wheel of wonder turns, powered by waters of innocence we all carry whether we sense them or not. It’s there carrying the inevitable inhalation of awe just behind every sunset and moment of revelation thrumming in your body. Every time the hawk glides by, every time spring raises its enchanting exhale, every time the Beloved meets you as you move to help another—the wheel of wonder turns the imagination to create new pathways for the innocence to appear and move closer—like the heron, like the deer, like the compassion with which you bestow upon yourself and the soul of the world.
I am here to mention, in passing, there are many wheels turning in our hearts. Witness each moment awake–for what it is—an ending, a beginning—the pause in a kiss, the hearts-touching-embrace and the stepping back. If you become afraid of the cycle, move inwardly toward yourself to treat yourself with all the patience you would give to a friend. The wheels will always turn. And there is nothing to the idea of being caught up in them—caught up in the wheels of birth and death. We can no more get stuck in those wheels as we can in a dream. We are here—this moment. Be attached. Be ready to loosen into the sky, like a ribbon of laughter. Yes, the road changes, while at the same time, the destination stays the same—the certainty of all certainties is there–the Beloved—waiting, holding the baskets of the bread of kindness you made all those years. What matters now is which wheels do you see in your eyes when you look in the mirror? Which wheels do you see in the eyes of another? One wheel mauls us into dust; one unfolds us, like morning; one lifts us, like a ferris wheel where we can pause to brush the stars with our fingers, and to kiss.
I will not say: Enjoy the ride. Instead, I will say, in passing, be soil and let the water nourish you, and so too, be water and nourish the world.