Masters of the Wheel by Ron Sanders

Masters of the Wheel

We were victors, we were gods, we were keepers of the crown: we had plucked the fire’s eye, we had worn the monster down. We had pierced creation’s heart, we had brought its pulse to heel; we had cracked the atom’s code, we were masters of the Wheel.

Yet we withered at inflections, we wallowed in our psalms; we watched our brute reflections as we wiped our sweaty palms. So stranger prayed for stranger, and father wept for son. Then came that awful moment when the sirens wailed as one

          And the world went mad

Whole nations torn, woods and cities burning. Into the tempest life’s ashes borne; what keeps the cinder turning? Came the rains: relentless, deluging all; banshees of steam screamed, rising only to fall. Hurricane winds ever tapered, and then, sunshine enlightened the planet again.

          And the world was seed

Now, for every step its evolution takes, this rock a million revolutions makes. In seas, in pools, in hollows, in lakes, sunlight the forces of certainty wakes. Eons, ages—incalculable span—in seas, in pools, in hollows, in lakes… in time, the journey of life began.

          And the world blushed green

Wherever life ventured, it flourished; fin begat foot, the land opened wide. Through conflict, through want, brute powers were nourished: blood howled its passage, fresh blood replied. Whole species vanished, new species clashed; life savaged life in forests and seas. In shadows of monsters a warm creature dashed: something unique was afoot in the trees.

Then one signal spring, embracing the land, a wayfarer into the wilderness ran. He outshone his cousins: erect he could stand. He prowled the wide savanna, his head held high—the Man.

          And the world beckoned

He ranged in tribes, worked wood and bone, built gods of loam, struck fire with stone. One prize drove this hunter, one prey made him burn—to break his world, to make it bend…he had to know; he had to learn. He walked the plains of forgotten cities, all long reduced to dust. He studied the fossils of iron pillars and pondered on the rust.

Millennia passed, he courted the Wheel; his science grew apace. Nature’s spires fell to steel, his towers took their place. Cities blossomed, succumbed to war, sacred trusts betrayed. Nations clashed like beasts of yore, men took to arms and prayed.

Then one anxious fall, his slick treaties scrapped, this warrior turned magician: the cosmos’ source was tapped. A hero, a giant, a god would he be! He held this power captive—this power greater than he.

So we wither at inflections, we wallow in our psalms; we watch our brute reflections as we wipe our sweaty palms. So stranger prays for stranger, and father weeps for son, till comes that awful moment when the sirens wail as one.

          And the world sighs again

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Ron Sanders is an L.A.-based author, poet, and illustrator

Image Credit: Evolutionary sequence Johannes Plenio/Unsplash