The sky turned black and we were stuck behind
a three-mile line of cars. I’d tried to find
a back way home from Megan’s Boston doc
but didn’t figure in the five o’clock
non-weekender just wanting to get home
to Essex County, Mass (I’d hoped to roam
its Whittier spaces). Rain began to pelt
the car as Haverhill came in view. We felt
quite nervous when we couldn’t see if there
were two or four lanes ‘cross the bridge over
the Merrimack. Our wipers set on max
could not keep up. We followed tracks
of a one-ton truck until it led us through
a flooded patch of Main Street. Thus we knew
we had to park and let the deluge pass.
We turned uphill and looked for treeless grass
to park beside. Rain-Bound. No debate:
John Greenleaf Whittier’s farm would have to wait.
After Michigan’s miles marked with graves
and Ohio’s highways hindered by cones,
I landed some lodging in a lakeside town.
I planned to unpack and plop on the bed.
But I went to the window to watch the traffic
and noticed — through noise and nuisant wires —
sweet-light from the sun setting over the lake.
Driven, I dashed down to the lobby
where a man marked a map to the beach
on Presque Isle (the piece of peace where my son
waded and watched the waves last year).
I revved along roads, racing the sun.
I lost. But the last liquid red
shone on the shingle. The shore glowed.
The wave-rhythm washed away the roar
of a day spent driving and dodging pot-holes.
The sand massaged the soles of my feet.
I paced. I took pictures. My pulse slowed.
No matter that I missed the moment of setting.
The fade was fantastic: a finish worth
extending my trek. Two days to go —
impossible made possible by peaceful Lake Erie.
I left home on a journey today: a road trip to visit family in Michigan. I expected my usual travel-adrenaline, the thrill of away. Instead I found dread at crossing the bridge that spans the Connecticut River and signifies the end of New Hampshire. To distract myself, I listened to the journey of Simon Armitage on the car stereo, the narrator’s voice like thunder through the mist on the Pennine Way. Similarly in Vermont, I wound along hairpin curves in cloud so thick I could barely see the hood of my car. Armitage dodged bulls in the fields he crossed; I dodged a family of Canada Geese [a mated pair plus five yellow-green goslings] as they attempted to cross I-90. And like Armitage, I lost my way. But only once. And only because I trusted (rather than overruled) technology. I’m halfway there; tomorrow the reunion begins, and hopefully with it joy. But for now, for tonight, I’ll sleep covered by the same bank of grey that reaches across New York, across Vermont, and blankets my Meredith meadow.
subaru crawls through cloud,
lines and signs all but invisible—