The Tunnel

C. Dale Young

I had been there before, of course, the air
still faintly smelling of smoke. Three dollars
to ride, to navigate the currents of Love,

the crests and slurries of opportunity sold as easily
as cotton candy or a soda, as easily as my heart.
O god of Free Enterprise. O winged child

smiling from the placard with your arrow
set to fly. Which couple did you choose that night?
The boat motored ahead, its track sunken

but there to offer safe passage through rough times.
I clasped the edge of his flannel shirt, warmer
and different from the silk one I had held on to

so many years ago as the sulfur flames fanned out
above our heads. The mirrors showed our faces
silvered in that flash, my hair almost white

with surprise. What called us to such things?
What drew us into that boat without a ferry man?
A goddess whispered that all would be seen

and foreseen along Love's tides and riptides.
At the end of that journey, we walked out
under a sky bleeding pink and orange, And then,

it darkened with birdsong and so many possibilities.
Make me a candle, Lord. Make me less blue.
Make me faithful, something tried but true.

C. Dale Young is a poet, writer, and physician. The author of The Second Person and Torn, he is a fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Originally published:
April 1, 2005


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