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Epithalamion from the ferris wheel, with birds, a poem by Susanna Childress

Epithalamion from the ferris wheel, with birds

Which summer was it I lost    my kid brother
at the carnival? I spent                        my quarters like clouds spend
rain. When I could not find him, fire-slaught sluiced through me, his name

from my throat like the sounds           rising off the tilt-a-whirl, lifted
higher than the carriage           of the ferris wheel. I ran
the fairway. Please, I panted,                         and this is the part

repeating in me like a robin’s song. Lover, I’m still greedy, still
at the trickster’s stand trying              for that enormous unicorn
stuffed with nothing but rannygazoo. I’ll vow it: I know so little of how

love works, how it starts, stays, soars over the cherry orchards
like a flock of starlings, flits and        ripples and settles
in the forlorn stalks of corn. My brother        wandered out

the 4-H hall, loped toward me            with a fist of popcorn. What I mean is
I remember this                       feeling: I cracked
open for you, my stolen egg in spring, and                this, our

aviary, this wheel’s                          lurch, one more way of reaching
for sky. From where we are,   its crags and funnels, its whistle
and yawp, its unfettered edge at the county line, love

seems bright with gimmickry. Who   else could bring the trill
of a winter finch, some Pine Siskin’s wing holding forth, the shimmer
of surprise—you here, me here, somehow     having found

each other        in the raucous, peopled fairway          of this life?

Susanna Childress has published two collections of poetry and is now at work on a book of creative nonfiction titled "Extremely Yours." Her work can be found or is forthcoming from The Rumpus, Fourteen Hills, Crazyhorse, Iron Horse Literary Press, Rhino, Relief, and Oakland Review. She grew up in southern Indiana.