Monday, September 23, 2013

fall notes: roadtrip

You leave town later than you'd planned,
nearly 11 by the time you fill the gas tank
and point the car north.  But the day

is radiant, and entirely yours. 
Your daughters sing along
from the backseat; The Lumineers,

Modest Mouse, the Avett Bros. 
Familiar landmarks stand
a bit taller than usual
against the brilliant
blue of sky.  The highway
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unfurls beneath your tires
in limitless possibility.
It is Sunday
and you've packed a lunch,
bathing suits, a camera.
An adventure is in order.
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Picnic at the Lewis and Clark Caverns.

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Dark skies on the way to Norris.

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Weary traveller.

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Waiting for the storm to pass at Norris Hot Springs. Nearby lightening cleared the pool.

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Yes! Mom, the pool's open!

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Recharged and perhaps fueled with a bit of junk food.

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Dropping into Ennis for dinner.

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The day's last light. And many miles still to go.

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Sandhill Cranes above, wet highway below.

From your booth at the diner in Ennis, 
you watch the windows grow completely black.  
There are three small televisions 
on the walls, all showing the same football game.
The girls alternately cheer for Chicago,
then Pittsburg, amusing the quiet tables

of flyfisherman and cowboys.  You give them quarters
to ride the automatic horse, the little train
with seats for two.
It is after 8 when you drive back
onto the highway.

In the backseat, the girls nestle
beneath their blankets
and close their eyes.

The going is slow.  Heavy clouds
and rain, a nearly empty highway,
lousy windshield wipers, the possibility
of hormonal deer charging into
your headlights.  You squint, grip

the stearing wheel.  55 mph 
for the next two hours.  
Gillian Welch sings her sad
songs as the occasional
semi sends waves of rain
into your windshield.
You can hear the girls

breathing quietly from the backseat
and you remember how,
as a child you loved 
driving at night with your parents,
how safe and warm, and protected
you felt moving across black
landscapes long after bedtime.

You take a deep breath,
relax your grip
and put your trust 
in the miles of dark highway

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