Chelsea Wagenaar received a BA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from the University of North Texas. She is the author of Mercy Spurs the Bone (Anhinga Press, 2015), which was selected for the 2013 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She is currently a Lilly Fellow at Valparaiso University in Indiana.
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The Spinning Place
Thomas Stevens took a giant spin, becoming the first person to complete a trip around Earth by bicycle. —New York Times Sometime on the third day of Hungary, she joins him. Day and night, day and night, propelled by the will of his legs, he has been alone. Until now. She is light and deft, a quixotic velocity. She points at churches, at gypsies, laughs and floods the unraveling road with a language he cannot understand. The inflection of asking lifts the hem of her words. To him each note in her impossible tongue asks, What are you afraid of? When will you live in one city again? Above them, a hawk spirals and dips. To it the world is a brambled field, each day as simple as the hunt for what invisible feet tunnel there. He sees the twentieth century loom before them. Buildings rise and fall. Great crowds cross borders. Capitals change names. Call of birds gone extinct. There are no cities, he says, only this pedaled cartography of unbelonging. The blue distills into granules of stars and the air is hymnic, honeyed with last light. He has not said what he meant. She turns to go back the way they came, the distance between them unspooled and irrevocable, held in place by the flash of spinning spokes, that bright and restless carousel.