Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Road Outside My Door

Today I drive fast
through the cold, overcast morning.
I’ve traveled this highway many times -
know the blind curve
before Hansen’s driveway,
and watch for draft horses
pulling the cultivator
as I approach Krueger’s.

Spring fields
are just beginning to show
a chartreuse sheen,
but I have seen them palest yellow
burnished gold
lavish green,
a dozen shades of grey beneath snow,
deep black, glistening in the rain,
or so dry that dust clouds
follow tractors down the rows.
Dutch Crick runs parallel on the west,
Some years it swells from spring rains
so the waters push up out of their banks,
over the dip in Piskey’s driveway,
impatient to reach the valley’s end,
like me.

Along the side of the road
I have seen dead deer and cats and coons
and possums and fox and birds,
and one live dog,
who now makes his home with me.
Today turkey vultures gather,
like congress,
shoulder to shoulder
in a nearby field.
They pick and tear at a bloated carcass
greedy to get all they can,
like congress.

In January, bald eagles light
in the oak trees at the edge of the road,
across from Sandman’s farm,
I’ve counted as many as seven.
Wild turkeys dot the side-hills in spring,
too many to count,
so we have hunting seasons for them.

There are mornings
when the ground fog nestles in the valley
and I drive up and out
into the dazzling sun of a different day.
In fall when the leaves turn
Brown, yellow, orange,
Oak, birch, maple,
I count these days precious,
and the smell of wood smoke
rising from the farmhouse chimneys
is a gift.

Coming home in the afternoons
waiting behind the school bus
I wave to children
who wave to me
through the back window.
Butch drives the bus
through the valley,
depositing each child
at his rightful place
along the road.

At night the warm light
from each farmhouse along the way
that punctuates the dark
marks a home, a family, a circle of souls
that calls to me;
yet, there have been winter nights
when the full moon
has shown so brightly on the snow
that I have turned off my headlights
and driven through the valley
marveling in

As I race down Highway 162,
from between its lines
tucked and twisted through the hills,
I recall the thousand faces
this road has shown me,
through different times and seasons,
and I slow down, and look
for it will never be just this way again.


  1. This is amazing - I love the whole thing, but the last 5 lines blew mw away !!!

  2. So profoundly beautiful, Mary. Could not only see but feel each bend, each memory. It took my breath away and made me long for this place I've never been. You really paint such amazing pictures with your poetry. Absolutely loved it.

  3. Jo - Thank you, always good to have a good end.

    Ginny - Wow, thanks so much! It really is the 6 mile curvy stretch between my house and the nearest little town in the middle of nowhere. Thank you very much for you kind words! :o)

  4. A vivid and evocative sense of place infuses this poem, Mary. Wonderfully atmospheric.

  5. Dick - Thank you very much. Glad you stopped in to read!

  6. sizzling title.
    you have multiple talent.

    Check out our short story slam today,

    We love creativity, your input is valued.

    Happy Friday!
    Hope to see you in!

  7. rich words,
    you captured the views along the road vividly and magical.
    Cheers, keep it up.

  8. Bluebell - thanks for the comment. Sorry I missed our story slam.

    Jingle - Thank you!

  9. I was raised on a farm, and this is what I should have written on those memories. Driving too fast and slowing at the danger areas. If my father had known, he would have taken my keys away--not that the keys were ever pulled from the car.