PATRICIA L. HAMILTON
LULLABY OF THE WALL STREET INVESTMENT BANKER
Come with me. I will cocoon you in my air-conditioned,
airbag-equipped American car, and we will glide south
down a divided highway together toward understanding.
Unplug yourself from the jabbering squawk on the street.
Let yourself be lulled on this smooth four-lane, undulant
across the land-swells that surge toward the horizon.
Replenish your soul with the silent expectancy of fallow fields
crazy-quilted together by dense green windbreak-stitching
across swatches of soybean, sorghum, and tasseled corn.
As streamers of black-eyed Susans unfurl along the roadside,
ponder the paradigms that shape your expectations.
Consider why plump-bellied small-town water towers
perched on spindly daddy-long-legs do not stir in you
the same unease as dish-bristling microwave towers;
why eighteen-wheelers hauling freshly cut timber
summon a vague sadness; why redbrick churches
with white steeples hint you’ve lost something
you’re certain you never had. Notice the boarded-up
video stores, the graveyards of rusted cars,
the gas stations tricked out with security cameras,
but do not fret. Just past the next stoplight
we will turn in at those iconic yellow arches
so you can pacify yourself with a familiar array
of faux-food. Study the teenagers behind the counter—
black, white, brown—working together in harmony,
grateful for minimum-wage jobs. Let yourself wonder
what unemployment rates will be ten years from now.
As we press on into the afternoon, watch a jet-dot
scrawl a tiny contrail across the sky's cirrus-shimmer.
Forget about the Fed. It does not love you. It never did.
Contemplate who first cleared this loam-rich cotton-land,
and why. Reflect on ownership structures. Feel the weight
of history, heavy as swinging body. No—hush now. Hush.
Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English at Union University in Jackson, TN. Her work has recently appeared in The Windhover, Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, Bindweed, and Not Very Quiet. She won the 2015 Rash Award in Poetry and has received three Pushcart nominations. Her first collection, The Distance to Nightfall, was published in 2014 by Main Street Rag Publishing.