By Thomas Cushman
Driving along the Interstate,
in the West,
on an early Summer evening,
my attention presses forward
along the road that rolls out ahead,
making plans for a life not nearly finished.
My attention stretches back
with the road behind
to the places I’ve just been
seconds, minutes, years ago.
Out here, in the West, on the Interstate,
for long hours
as darkness takes its time descending,
I can almost feel
that it is not the sun which sets,
but rather it is the earth rolling me back,
and away from the light.
Out here, in the Summer,
on the Interstate, at night,
when the darkness is done descending,
the darkness is not quite complete.
Down to the left
reflective stripes flash by.
Over to the right
mile markers rise and fall.
These discreet moments of light
only reinforce the vast blackness
in which they lie.
Out here, in the West, on the high plains of the night,
there might be nothing between me and the stars;
no clouds, no sky, no sun, no moon,
I might even be
on a timeless journey between distant worlds,
only an illuminated dash for navigation,
otherwise enveloped by starry black.
Out here, at night, alone,
speeding smoothly along,
through immense dark,
I feel alive, and singular,
and comfortably a part
of this anonymous universe.
Spring 2014 (Fresh Start)
A grey and cracked concrete box
half-filled with frozen dirt and drifts of dirty snow.
It must have been a planter, I decide,
though that seems too genteel a term,
for this rough and broken nursery.
But against all odds two early stems rise.
And I do not know what they are. Not yet.
Because this planter – and the house to which
it was once tightly cemented – are new,
to me. Quite old, really, and long empty.
But now I’m here,
and both are new to me.
Day by day – or perhaps it’s night by night
the stems build up, cautiously, quietly,
And just a few mornings ago,
as I backed down the drive,
always by that grey box,
I saw their budding had at last begun.
But budding with reserve, ever so slow,
as if they were not sure, not yet agreed
to form full buds, let alone to flower.
Ah, tulips! Of course they would be tulips.
Though just barely. They did not bloom quite right;
With faded colors and missing petals,
the stems too tall and the flowers too small.
Perhaps the bulbs were old, the dirt too thin.
So I dug it up and started again.
Old roots pulled out, some fancy soil raked about,
Rows and riots of bold color planted.
With all this fresh life bursting forth above,
One will hardly notice the broken box below.
Oxygen and nitrogen,
chlorophyl and carbon.
Clever people have thoroughly mapped
the chemical life of leaves.
Gay Writes is a DiverseCity Series writing group, a program of SLCC’s Community Writing Center. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 6:30-8pm, 210 E. 400 South, Ste. 8, Salt Lake.