That Round Thing

Steering wheels and Ferris wheels,
potter’s wheels that spin and spin,
rolling pins to make dough thin,
waterwheels and movie reels,

tiny wheels for repli-cars,
real car wheels of burnished chrome,
wheels that open up a dome
so eyes can open to the stars,

wheels of torture to break men’s limbs,
Fortuna’s wheel in games of chance,
the wheel of life in the Earth-Moon dance
where every creature sinks or swims.

Deprived of wheels, would humankind,
bearing burdens on our backs,
yearn for a freight train’s clickety-clacks?
While cogwheels turn inside the mind

like planets, we would all be free
to go around and around the sun,
forever saunter, plod, or run,
getting nowhere speedily—

like traffic in the frozen ocean
of 5:00 p.m. around New York.
Yet who, I ask, would blow their cork
in calm but wheel-less locomotion?