Sunday, May 10, 2009

Those places between other places

Three hours out from the bridge
with the broken toll basket and just
one hour after every song on the radio
became wrong, there is nothing left
but to busy ourselves with the calculus of travel -
the speed that will get us there fastest
without a ticket, or how many miles
before we definitely, without question,
will need to stop for gas, or how
the mile markers steadily decrementing
still seem to never lessen.

The fringe of far woods, out there,
just over your left shoulder might be beautiful,
touched here and there by the pink and slanted sun
of a summer evening. It could all be lovely -
the broad lawns where rabbits stand tall
with their shadows running away from them
as far at the next highway exit,
the barns and silver ponds
where no one at all is fishing
from boat or shore. It might be perfect
if only we could afford the seconds
to turn and look as we blaze past.

This far out, the names of all the towns
seem to be either Finnish, or made
from Scrabble tiles, and the low stores
waiting at the end of each off-ramp
look like they carry only brands we never heard of
and we ask each other what it must be like
to come home here each night
from god knows where, pulling up
in front of one of those new houses
on a street with a blandly pretty name
to dinner with a pretty enough wife.

Look up from your magazine, now and again
and allow your eye to trick over all the work done
just so our passage would have a backdrop -
the distant aqueduct of the interstate
where the signs decree that East and West first divide
and 105, somehow, becomes 287,
the impossibly intricate refineries
all latticed walks and bristling stacks
raised so we have something to see
between exits 62 and 65.

Does it seem incredible
that all this was laid out
just so our bright car, our earnest faces
both fixed straight ahead
would seem even more beautiful
against such scenery? I’m sure
that someone in each car
that passed here all day long
thought the exact same thing.

Mark Aiello