I almost didn’t see him at all.
In fact, I’ve wondered if I ever really did.
What I do remember is the sound
that his unwinding made,
his precipitate, peevish decampment
from the shady bed of periwinkles
I was distractedly watering that day,
that sound like the sound a woven belt makes
pulled briskly through belt-loops.
And all at once I seemed to sense
a swift barbarity, the scandalous bulk
of his nacreous transit past my foot.
He’d roused himself from his repose
without ceremony, I figure,
into stunning velocity, like someone
jerked awake from a power-nap
to find themselves late
for a pressing engagement, blazing
like a house afire, pure fugitivity,
disappearing forever past me,
well past recollection’s reach,
out through the coyote fence
and into the immemorial, into dreams.
That lovely, startling Red Racer,
or perhaps that vanishing of his,
more enduring than appearance,
has taken up residence, forever coiled
in the realm of the unremembered,
the domain of the not-quite-real,
to occupy its scandalously outsized
presence in thought, resisting logic,
unavailable for syllogism, but like the face
of a stranger barely glimpsed
in the crush of a morning subway,
a revenant, a lingering, a recurrence of what
has never really occurred, of something
lying quietly among the flowers, poised
for arousal when we are least prepared,
ready to startle us with the bright
unwelcome gift of itself.