Monday, April 8, 2013

Passing Green River at Midnight

When you know that you're done teasing God
With your "Thou hast" and "Thou hast not yet,"
And you already tired of London
Back in another millennium,
You may find yourself on a freeway
At some ungodly hour of darkness
In the desert, haunted by truckers,
Troopers, trains, and the orthogonal
Mammals making mad dashes across--
Well whatever this black asphalt means.
Once again, life in the subjunctive
Runs around frantically in your thoughts:
Old man, you should have camped somewhere else,

You should have stayed home, you should have found
An inn while there was time to find one.
What is it about you and the long
Way home? You could have made up your mind
Ages and ages ago and been
Contented with the cards as counted
Against you in God's blue dive of dives.
You could have remained in New Jersey,
Birmingham, Salt Lake City, Moab.
You could have turned off the ignition
And found the final meaning of home,
Before you became so much the way
And so little arriving at last.

But here you pass, ferrying sleepers
Who would prefer to be home abed
Or at least in a tent by a fire,
Through this Armageddon of orbit,
The nightly turn from the sun to the truth,
And you figure you should keep driving.
     Sometime later, along the river
Shored only by cliffs and your headlights,
A woman rushes into your glare,
Arms flailing, cigarette in one hand,
Trying to flag you down in the dark.
And, for no reason to do with you,
You stop. Your spouse wakes to cradle her

In all her irrational sobbing
About a car in the ditch, too much
Fear, a little blood, some alcohol,
No victims beyond this mystery,
And she crawls into the car praising
You to God as you drive up the road
To the place in the cliffs where she lives.
She gets out, thanking you profusely,
And disappears through the door under
The one lighted window where, she says,
Her friend is waiting, and you wonder
Hard, heading back home, about that friend.
You get to bed. You begin again.

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