The little boy could no longer wait
for his mother to shave the cherry ice
until it sold out. We had just met
at the church fair. His mother knew mine
in youth. She owned an ice stand with her husband,
watched his son wait on the ferris wheel line.
The ferris wheel operator would not permit
the little boy to ride alone, although he was
first in line. I stood, without a ticket,
the tallest and oldest in line.
The operator looked past the boy,
into a sea of eager faces, selected two
for the empty cage. Another cage reared,
and the operator, once more, sought a pair.
The little boy, crestfallen, looked at his feet.
I raised my hand. The operator waved
the boy and me in.
We circle the axis five times. I do not think
of rusty hinges, crooked screws, this machine
that needs oiling. Perpendicular to earth,
the wheels stops. The boy grips the bar
across his lap. “I hope we don’t
turn over,” he says. Unsure of myself
with this young stranger, I say, “Me too.”
The spokes flash colorful light as
people below us gesture with white palms.
The little boy lets go of the bar. “It’s not scary,”
he says. “It’s not.” I call him brave
not knowing what else to say.
Ground-level, the wheel stops,
the operator offers me his hand.
“Are you all right?” he asks me.
The little boy, quiet, disembarks.
The operator should have asked
the little boy
if he had fun.