Rube Goldberg met with Cupid in an alley,
said “Look, I’ll help your broken arrow get
to where you want it. First off, let’s forget
a mountain’s any different from a valley —
we’ve never heard of obstacles. Next thing,
I’ll need a quiet place to work, some room
where I can’t hear the roaring traffic’s boom.
This attic’s perfect. Job well done. Now bring
me earplugs and a crate of beer, then scram.”
Cupid obeyed and flew back to his cloud
as Goldberg rolled his sleeves up, and a shroud
of secrecy descended…Leeks, a pram,
dining-room tables and a duck were seen
entering the attic on a pulley
while the paparazzi dutifully
cluttered the corridor where they had been.
Days passed—or were they weeks?—time was a blur
in this electric climate of creation,
just say time passed, when hoots of celebration
coming from the attic caused a stir
among the small dogs on the street below.
Goldberg got Cupid on the phone and said
“I’m going to take the top right off your head:
come quickly to my room so I can show
my latest masterpiece to you.” Quaking
with highest hopes and sheer fear, Cupid paced,
put on his darkest sunglasses and raced
into the teeming city, wings aching,
mind afire, and nerves completely raw.
He took the elevator to the ninth floor
where, beaming, Goldberg met him at the door
and let him in. And this is what he saw:
metal and feathers rose up in a narrow
shaft that ended in a triangle
part plywood and part leafy vegetable;
Goldberg had made a statue of an arrow.
Cupid knew Goldberg wasn’t serious;
the real contraption waited in the wings!
But when he realized the plain truth of things
he raised his arms and cried out, furious,
“I wanted you to steer a fragile dart
through shark-torn waters and crow-blasted skies
to where my icy-cold beloved lies,
not mock it with this stiff, this ghastly art.”
“But frozen sorrow offers such a thrill,”
Goldberg replied, “to those who caused the pain
that motion’s loss will be persuasion’s gain.
If this doesn’t melt her, nothing will.”
“Oh Goldberg, Goldberg, would that it were true.
I also used to feel deep in my gut
that works of love could cure indifference, but
I’ve given that dream up, and so should you.
I wanted rockets surging from the ground.
I wanted pyrotechnics and not planks.
Your artistry’s beyond pathetic; thanks
for a great big nothing. See you around.”
But Goldberg, not one to be silenced, spent
the next day polishing a marble bow,
and marveled at how Cupid could have so
misunderstood what moving really meant.
Copyright © Persea Books 2010
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.