Susan L. Leary


Man of Industry

History has been orphaned by parents
who must tend to many things: holy wars, intellect,
the frequent silencing of a dog’s bark.
But my husband: he looks at me in the evenings
with Ellis Island in his eyes, like our big city is still
a small town where clothes are ironed with starch
and mothers smell of Clorox.
He hikes the Appalachian Trail.
He visits monuments.
He knows how to change flat tires.
From Cleveland, his family is born and raised,
and over dinner, we speak dreams of being born and raised
by cul-de-sacs, coal and steel,
plants other than orchids.
On the map, the outline of the Midwestern states literally
resembles the shape of America.
But Miami is a tall, beautiful building.
She makes a woman forget that a man who chooses to serve
in the war actually loves her more: loves her
because she is his country.
In a tropical sky, people water flowers in the space
of wire bicycle baskets,
their bodies as small and slow and many as the cars that snake
on interstates 500 feet beneath them.
Men of industry built these streets—and yet we seek a world
where a man of industry might hold a briefcase,
coordinate his socks with his tie,
drive, unironically, a Ford Mustang his hands did not create.
Bells ring for a dream believed medieval,
as if it were before Christ,
before single-celled organisms,
before canaries, bright and yellow, sang under the earth,
their song the measure of a person.
But America is an outdoor January wedding: with snow,
confidently-bare trees, and an adoring,
patient groom—and our Midwest, should we get there:
it will be the something new.

SUSAN L. LEARY is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her most recent creative work appears or is forthcoming in Gyroscope Review, Clear Poetry, Steel Toe Review, The Copperfield Review, Antiphon, Cold Creek Review, Dying Dahlia Review, The Big Windows Review, After the Pause, Neologism Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.