Friday, July 30, 2010
Such an Infernal Contraption
A heavy but graceful steel frame
supported by four tiny casters.
A single big clockwork gear
and something like a ship’s wheel
of equal size. I dare you
to turn that wheel and engage
this rusty but potent machine.
What does it do? You don’t know?
Turn the wheel and the planet
shifts on its axis, tilts more
to the right. You’ll hardly notice,
but the winters will get longer
and the summers will shrivel one
or two degrees. New Zealand,
however, will warm a little,
and the Antarctic icecap shrink
by several million cubic yards.
You think this antique device
doesn’t work anymore? Try it—
go ahead, risk our grandchildren’s
future by changing the climate
with a single turn of that wheel.
You claim it won’t budge because
the rust has lingered for decades?
I’ve a quart of oil in the trunk
of the car. Let’s douse this thing
and get it working fluently;
and maybe by turning the wheel
the other way with heroic
grunts and groans we’ll reverse
the industrial revolution
and undo some terrible curse
we hadn’t known applied to us.