Inside a community college in West Virginia
a professor stands before the class and asks
if anyone knows what gravity is.
When no one guesses, he professes that gravity
is the force that drags your car towards passing semis.
I wonder about my coworkers.
What were they told of gravity in elementary school?
Did their teachers bring semi-trucks into the parking lots
as planetary exhibits?
Did they give the kids a toss into orbit
until the teachers could dream up the next lesson plan?
They must have been blinded early to experience gravity
in such intensity every day and still not know what it is.
Gravity is the school system whose mass of alternate truth
far outweighs a fully loaded semi.
Gravity is tradition whose mass of dead ancestors
could block out the sun.
Gravity is in the water, in the rust and lead and manganese,
in the fly ash, in the turquoise, aquamarine waters
thousands of miles from the tropics.
Gravity is in your sperm, in your ovaries.
Gravity is in the abstinence-only education,
in your hand moving back and forth,
in the electricity coming together.
Gravity is in the tip of a needle, it fits in a spoon,
soaks into cotton. Gravity can be cut, made more dense.
Gravity is in the twenty-twos and lift kits, howling mufflers
and window tints. Gravity demands monthly payments,
and has an affinity for old Subarus.
Gravity comes in green and brown bottles, bear-topped tins of snuff,
tiny smoke stacks. Gravity gets spit out machines with flashing lights
in gas stations, in supermarkets, in casinos.
Gravity rides on the backs of horses.
Gravity is the factory, and while they toil for the whole of their lives,
a thousand years pass beyond the well.
Victor Koran is a customer service representative living in Ohio. He writes primarily to capture the hardship of the people still hard at work in the old backbone of America - the Rust Belt. His work is forthcoming in The Cobalt Review and Up The Staircase Quarterly.