High Altitude Conveyance
Dear Lord, please forgive me for wanting
to measure everything against what it was like
when new. For wanting water
clear against my skin and not cupped in grout
on bathroom floors. How I deprive myself
of oxygen to catch a flicker of Your face
projected onto the clouds. The metal frames
of the Ferris wheels clicking like cassette tapes.
My body suspended in a carriage
on a continuous loop. The loop as cat’s cradle,
VHS tape, a single belt
pulled by a bouquet of spinning circles
around which the painted cars become beads
in an uninterrupted rosary. Dear Lord,
I’m not even Catholic but I love the feel
of rosary beads. By this I mean I love
the thought of counting, which is not that different
from naming. To point to something
and register its abundance.
A mental checklist of what exists.
A man standing in a doorway holding a long piece
of studded leather or plastic
may or may not be a father, may or may not
be a kind of reckoning,
guttural utterances in the throat.
Heavenly Father, I’m trying to understand acceleration
and how the changing speed and direction
of a belt approaching skin wasn’t enough
to unlock my potential or make me love You,
which is why the scientists turned toward height.
When you can’t see the person across from you,
look up. What Jesse learned
on his uncle’s bathroom floor. How an extension cord
is the tool of a small man. He never
played with dolls again and never talked about it.
Father, forgive me for wishing
an end to all things perfect and spinning.
Fourteen hours is a long time to go
without water and at the end of this ride
I’m mistaking Your face for a smudge
on videotape. The one where I’m screaming
through the sprinklers, grass stains everywhere.
The one where no one is crying
but everyone’s wet.
Ting Gou is the author of the chapbook The Other House, published in 2016 by Blue Lyra Press. Her poems can also be found in the Bellevue Literary Review, Best of the Net, Ghost Ocean Magazine, Superstition Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a collection inspired by The Centrifuge Brain Project, a mockumentary about a fictional experiment in the `80s and `90s in which physicists built impossible amusement park rides that prolonged the experience of zero-gravity, with the hypothesis that exposure to these weightless states would unlock human intelligence. This summer, she will be moving from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Houston, Texas, where she will be a resident physician in psychiatry at Baylor.