Song Behind a Rear-Tined Tiller

They believed consciousness resided in the heart

Aristotle believed this, and the Egyptians
who scooped out dead Pharaoh’s brain
through his nose with a spoon
and stuffed his skull with rags assuring
he would not be thinking in the other world
to which he’d travel by long boat
being wrapped in cloth, speechless, supine in gold,
embarked with a breathless retinue of slaves
through the hole at the end of the earth
to a place far in imagination

Here and now sunlight climbs a trellis of trees
along a rail line on which, at irregular times,
a freight comes dragging coal behind three engines
or hauls ladened boxcars labeled J.B. Hunt,
or pulls chains of chemical tanks and steel containers
heavy with the inventions of consciousness
some inscribed with graffiti sprayed by
a deft hand in letters bold, in colors
set with a master’s touch
tuned to the songs of heart or brain
while the smell of blue-grey diesel
sparks a synapse between beats
and one step follows another
behind a rear-tined tiller
as I urge a throttle

Who knows who sings
through what instrument
–did Aristotle?

by Jim Culleny, 4/22/10

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