"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

THE ROAD TAKEN

From The Imaginary Garden comes a prompt imagined by Kerry O'Connor - from Elizabeth Bishop, The Fish, "Our Open Link provides us with the opportunity to write a promptless poem, to plumb the depths of consciousness and present our own visions in the form of poetry."

The detour led us off the highway
and onto a gravel road,
past shacks and crooked trailers.
The gravel in the wheelwells
amplified the quiet in the car—
our children in the back suddenly paying attention.

We’d crossed an invisible border
and entered a country where people sit on porches,
stare at the oddity of traffic, and don’t wave.
The road led us deeper into the woods
and through hills fit for a brochure

but outside the window garbage overflowed the ditch—
discarded tires and old car bumpers,
scraps of metal and broken glass signaling for help.
Dust hung in the air and breached the rolled windows,

and I wanted the highway, manicured rest areas and speed limits.
Our detour through this country inside a country
made our children put down their books
and ask questions we couldn't answer.


And what I remember more than what I wrote is the sense of fear that permeated the car, fear of the unknown and resentment at having been thrown into such an uncomfortable situation. We did not want to see what we were forced to see. And while it's been a while, I still see the vacant stares and feel the stillness that hung in the air.


11 comments:

Kerry O'Connor said...

You present an object lesson in how the other half live, a worthwhile detour if it makes one appreciate the straight and narrow more.

Anthony Duce said...

So well expressed, the hidden world just off the main road.
While reading I was reminded of the forth of July weekend trips I sometimes take to watch the fireworks in Port Sanilac from the marina. Traffic is detoured off the main roads going through the tourist towns for local parades. Ironically the world behind the patriotic storefronts present a much more sobering view.

brudberg said...

How easily we can get that unsettling feelings when we are past the familiar.. what for some is familiar can seem ominous, and there somewhere we imagine we hear the sound of dueling banjos...

rallentanda said...

Excellent poem...stumbling across a sad hidden reality...your imagery made us see it!

Debi Swim said...

Excellent description

Outlawyer said...

Wonderful. I have driven in places like that--You really get the feel down. Thanks, Yvonne--very well done. Sad. k.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Kerry,
It was probably a "wake-up" for many people that day. Thanks.

Tony,
So very true. Every small town has its sobering backside. Thank you.

Brudberg,
Funny you mention banjos. I had the same thought. Thanks.

Rallentanda,
Thank you and thank for commenting.

Debi,
Thanks!!

Outlawyer,
Yes, and I wondered what would happen if we had a break-down. Or ran over a nail. Thanks.

Gail said...

Very scary to be faced with the truth of the unfortunate.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Hi Gail,
It was scary, and one of those lasting impressions that don't go away. Thanks!

Kim Nelson said...

This is a scene each of us should see and recognize. Diversity and all its truths enables us to develop compassion, empathy, charity.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Kim,
Well said! I think it's so important for young people to travel as extensively as they can, all of us for that matter. Thank you so much.