Primitive Figure, Dogu Period
He stiffened a little on the treadmill
and gripped the handles while he tracked the screen.
The picture was a camera crew: their cameras
shouldered, they shimmied down a pile of rubble
left where the risen ocean clobbered homes.
This surge behind his watching as he watched
the ash reveal a skateboard, overturned.
The wheels collected miniature snowflake domes.
Maybe because full blast in his ear buds
Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” rose and flashed on
breakers of alto cries and arpeggios or
maybe because the captions, lagging, spelled
“leaking reactor core” as the camera panned
once more to the slag heap. . . whatever reason:
far as the stars and right in front of him
sheer being surged there, in the light of catastrophe
that shone on streams of fleeing families
and lingered even past the commercial babble
(“Ultimate Connectivity For Less”)
while the treadmill beeped and shuddered to “Cool Down.”
And he remembered: in the locker room
he’d need to wipe his antifungal cream
around his torso, neck, as far around
his back as he could reach, then need to wait
ten minutes with his skin that smeary blue
and hunch on the bench, hang tight, embarrassment
tremoring through, as if dismay or fright
whose cause had fogged, forgotten. He would wave
to others passing there. Would tap his chest:
“Hey man. I’m blue today. I guess I’m blue.”