“The Invisible Stenographer Rediscovers the Wheel” by Kathleen A. Wakefield

Kathleen A. Wakefield


Seems like only yesterday,
the log roller, then the potter’s wheel
and Sumerian chariot, the fixed axle and spoke,
tires leather and metal (not until 1888 Dunlap’s pneumatic tire),
and don’t forget the water wheel, pulley, windlass and clock,
all the possibilities and problems
of continuous motion.

Is it boredom or the cloudless blue sky that sends her
five stories down from the rooms where she writes these days
to the 3-speed red bicycle someone’s left to rust in the alley?
She hops on expecting to tip like a child
but it’s as if she’s always known how the pedal’s resistance
melts into a spinning fever floating
between two walls of air.

She wonders how fine a line she could trace
between what’s true and false, the self and the other, the yin
and yang of it all. Why this point she’s balancing on
could be the present turning into the past, all the possible lines of the future
fanning out before her. She imagines riding no hands,
doing a wheelie, lifting herself out of
time and space.

She hums, pedals and spokes spinning. Prayer wheel,
mandala, untouchable, unnameable nothing, she sings,
faster and faster until, breathless, legs aching,
she thinks she may be human after all.
Red streamers shoot like flames from her wrists.
Seen from a distance she’s nothing more than a blur
on the horizon furiously scribbling itself
across the face of the earth.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012


Kathleen A. Wakefield: “The Invisible Stenographer is a persona that found me a few years ago. Some people say poetry can’t change a life, but I beg to differ. She (the Gregg shorthand gal) kept me going at a time when my life was horrible. She was fun to write about, crazy, sometimes terribly sad. I’m giving her an awful lot of credit and it sounds ridiculous, I know …” (web)

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