Ann Arbor Review
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
WHEN YOU GET HERE: DRIVING DIRECTIONS FOR MY SON
Turn off your Garmin.
Travel where gravel pings
against the underside of your car,
where you can smell manure on farm fields.
Allow the wind to ride shotgun.
Let it blow away maps and reminders.
Don't take the first road, or the second.
Wait until afternoon shadows lengthen
then drive toward the last glimmering of the day.
When you hear small animals preparing for night--turn.
By the lake stop to admire fathers
carrying their sleepy young home in the twilight.
Watch wet beach towels trail in the dirt.
Smell the weedy damp of the lake.
When they've all crossed the road
put on your blinker, but don't turn!
Wait until the white dog has trotted safely over.
Spend the night someplace where cookies are served.
Don't unwrap both soaps--it's not necessary.
In the morning, ask directions of the old man sweeping the drive.
Follow them precisely--in reverse. Don't stop for gas.
Drive through the wheat; let it push your car along.
Tell the companion you'll find along the way
that she is beautiful. Then . . .
when you arrive, we'll have wine
bottled in the year you were born, and pears--
oddly shaped, but plucked from a tree
that's been waiting for you to get here.
HOW TO WALK IN THE WORLD
Step softly when storefronts are still groggy with sleep.
They have not blinked fully into life and can be surly
this early in the morning. Slip between the defense
of silent, crossed streets. Rescue wind-tossed sentences
blown against your shins. There are always witnesses, you see--
even that yellow dog emerging from the alley by the locksmith's.
He will be called on to testify.
Whisper when you hear the cracked voice of weathered men
who have worked the earth. With or without their women,
they have sampled the colorings of time, can run their knobbed hands
over the rust of old affairs, and know how to love what is orphaned.
They'll not welcome you with words. One will spit. One will squint
into the haze of a summer heavy with the fullness of soybeans
and daughters. Bow when they sweep the dust off battered boxes.
Be a guest in the foyers and parlors of others' lives.
Take your shoes off at the door and speak politely of grief
acknowledged. Bring a casserole, but do not settle into armchairs.
Admire baby pictures, baseball trophies, and the handmade doilies
sent by distant aunts. Stand and lean into each other--do not talk.
This is all that is required to walk well in the world.
Do you remember the dream you had?
The one when you were twelve,
about the abandoned road--old tarmac
heaving and slumping across sun-baked fields
until resigning itself to dust?
And you, in your grandmother's chemille robe
with the pink roses. Remember?
You were standing amid chicory the color of sky.
Sweet clover, and bindweed splayed over your bare feet--
sated from their violation of the crumbling right-of-way.
In the heat, you pressed a big toe into a soft ribbon of tar.
The seal of a promise. Do you remember that dream?
The one you never told a soul? I do.
This is what I want to tell you about your dream:
either direction--the road is yours. It still knows the way;
dreaming in its slumber of pilgrims and the patient tread
of old dogs.
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