What This World Is, Is by Ted Lardner


We were driving down from Woods Landing in the mountains.
We came up behind a truck that was weaving
and swerving over the line. John Keats said
this world is for soul-making; that truck was a stake-truck,
with deadwood salvaged from the hills—the beetle-killed forests—
stacked high, over the cab, no straps, no ropes holding the load.
Coming upon it, you might—we did, the Laramie Plains do this to us,
coming off the mountains, make you feel
like you might fall straight into the sky.

You might have wondered, what is that?
watching the truck as it veered and twitched like a kite on the end of a string,
because, on top of the mountain of firewood,
up in the wild wind,
is where they had put the dog.

Keats said the heart is made to feel every inch
a thousand roads of sorrow.
We are made by the ride,
crawling the length of the load to the cab roof to see him
sprawling, pivoting there, tiptoeing backward,
picking and mincing, hunching, diving for balance, tail in legs.
Made to bear the sting,
the stitch that bind us
to the back of this sad world.
Ted Lardner‘s writing has appeared in Poet Lore, 5am, Arsenic Lobster and The Normal School. He is an alum of the Colrain manuscript conference, and his chapbook, Tornado, was published by Kent State University Press.