|The Road Less Traveled Leads You...|
You need little more than rust
on a chain to pacify old memories.
Stick to one spot long enough
and the ghosts resurrect themselves.
Alongside highway 23 the dust
still swelled itself against the gritty
wind of big-rigs, a Southern kind of whirlwind.
The old backroad that opened its mouth:
A wishing well, the future rolling backward.
A stillness that could hide, behind
the next burning bush, some raw beauty.
I parked the car at a liquor-store-
turned-convenient-mart, something you'd expect
in a shady, nowhere town more
turn-of-the-century than 2012.
Elderly men haggled near the pumps,
in stiff-gray Rip Van Winkle beards,
a few teenage boys were attempting to impress
the only girl: the convenience store clerk
who stood smoking near the hood of a car
where the crowd tinkered, air heavy
with the smell of oil and the thick,
damp woods of an early fall evening.
Did they drive this far into no-where,
or were they born amidst this
country-black that swallowed headlight shadows
and rivaled smoke rings their stale-gray darkness?
Against the 8pm twilight the road was merely
a long strand of Indian-ribbon wrapping
the edges of tree-lined hillsides, which flashed
a hunter-green silhouette against
the wobbly tail-lights of passing cars.
Old farm houses stood in the distance,
isolated as islands across the moon's surface,
abandoned as old bodies, they were mummified
in a perminant stance, black-shingle roofs
bending toward me like empty hands.
I imagined each year the wind of Spring monsoons
pulled their wooden fingers a little closer to the dust
as I stood some distance and marveled
the cool, dry air of this green-orange oasis,
damp wind kissing the backs of my stocking-covered knees
like a lover I once had, and I realized
I remembered too much of some older life;
that there was a deep-seated unease in
the attention I gave to spent memories, yet a
grave-still consolation is the trickery
of the sundials dance, the realization of things
half-dead I might bring back to life
because I no longer believed one aging highway
was any different than the end destination of another.