The Birth of Tragedy

Ryan Wilson

Spring 2018

Funny story. I wasn’t able to walk upright on my own
Two too long before I found myself possessed by an urge to go outside to play.
One rule: stay, stay in the yard. So I’d twirl myself dizzy and fall, lisp Highway to the Danger Zone,
Roll down the hill like a barrel, or teeter clapping at lightning bugs. But in the yard I’d stay.
What a good boy am I! I’d think. (Jack Horner was good, not mean like that snot Georgie-Porgie).
Then one day the sky was wolves and the faraway pines were smoky and I was bad and alone.
At first, my wooden rifle blew bad men without faces to smithereens in a petulant orgy
Of deathless death. And then I saw the farmhouse down the road by the pines. Then I was gone.

October, and the field wild with broom and tares was a harmonious bronze sea, enwoven
With quick patterns by slithering winds. I stumbled toward the happy white house on the remote
Hilltop, brandishing my toy. Arriving, though, I found porch-steps broken, windows gone, and darkness inside. Sensing a coven
Of witches might be in there waiting, watching, I scared, turned. Baaa! Face to face with a goat,
I leapt from the porch and made the dirt road, running all the way home and filling the gray sky
With shrieking and terror, the goat chasing, and tears, and no one could hear me or help me not die.

Ryan Wilson is the editor of Literary Matters and the author of The Stranger World (Measure Press, 2017), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His work appears widely in periodicals such as Birmingham Poetry Review, First Things, Five Points, the Hopkins Review, the New Criterion, the Yale Review, and Best American Poetry. He teaches at the Catholic University of America.

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