It begins with labor, what keeps this machine
in sync within the larger gears and coils,
the 1s and 0s chattering across channels
of labyrinthine wires, and those tumblers
on what appear to be perfectly shaped lawns
sheened like lakes under gasoline. Or try
this stick and rock and a powerful need
to move a bigger rock, you’ve got leverage.
But the machines come later, so this leaf
afloat in a river—something keeps it up,
a kind of tension, say, the leaf wanting
not to fall through but not contributing much else
in defense of that. The water, well,
it’s just water; it doesn’t really have a choice;
I mean, it was there, and labor works
like that, holding back its own flood, except
when it breaks, leaves like money running
everywhere, except back into the water.
PAUL OTREMBA is the author of the poetry collections The Currency and the forthcoming Pax Americana, both from Four Way Books. His poems and reviews have recently appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Witness, the minnesota review, Southwest Review, Hotel Amerika, and The Houston Chronicle.