Patience: In the Mill (James Dickey)

Patience: In the Mill

Through the place in the roof the sun came down
Where in a hall of light Mike Cole sat up,
His menial harness broken on his arms.
It shed a circle upon him,
As if he certainly were blessed, to be filling the cockpit with blood
Blushed eagerly from his face,
And laid on the sunburst of dials with glowing hands.

He could not look, but did,
And saw a smear, like an egg, on the ragged panel wiped.
It was his other eye, which last had looked
In seeing his engine die from a vibrant disk
To four great innocent sails.

Through his own incredible sternness
Of pain, he heard the sirens flare
On the gunned dust of the strip,
And motes from the stacks of sugar whirled
And unsupported slept upon the air, beside his props
Like petals carved from off the basined floor.

A tooth lodged in his throat.
He did not speak of it, but a loft of children
In the light he had let in
Were standing and piping. He could not sing with them,
And almost wept,
                    But like a child, forgot,
And wandered, lost, among their faces,
Opening the bags, tasting the slanted sugar as he would.

—James Dickey
—found in Summons

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