Poetic Pause

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Runner-up from the poetry contest for the spring 2013 Phi Kappa Phi Forum:

The Engineer

Your eyes are shaped like galaxies,
the silver irises fading into the dark pupils,
which once grew wider as you calculated,
dreamt whole cities built by graphs and numbers,
the marvel of human excellence
unfolding from the compass in your hands.
And now the fan is whirring in the window
as you work October nights, the moisture
of a hurricane come north beginning to build
along your neck. Already the cold starts to retreat,
whole winters at a time. Already, your hair
has begun to knot in frantic tufts,
your finger wrapping the damp curls
around themselves in swirls of gray.
These days I pray that you’ll build windmills,
the kind that power houses cleanly,
the ones that I still doubt can turn as fast
as the wheels of the old cars we used to drag race
all those many years ago.
You always tell me not to worry,
that progress can solve problems as surely
as the galaxy whirls on. And so it has:
the hacksaw spins, the building rises;
the revolving brush descends to wash the car
before we race, the gray wheels spinning
faster than a hurricane as it starts to overtake us.

Katie O’Dell is a senior double majoring in English and deaf education at The College of New Jersey, her Phi Kappa Phi chapter. She is an editor of The Signal, her school’s student newspaper, and won best feature writing, four-year colleges, for the 2011-12 New Jersey College Newspaper Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association. Email her at odell4@tcnj.edu.

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi