Afternoon Poem, March 27, 2015

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HEADING WEST: 1971

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We drove out of the Appalachians

Out of that dense green and those close horizons

Into the Midwest, open and vacant

Where the roads never turned, but like some ocean

Followed the curvature of the Earth

.

In Kansas, the newly turned soil

Was black as wet coffee grounds

And then the Rocky Mountains

Gigantic and distant

.

The air was lighter here

And carried the scents, light and medicinal

From plants we had never known

Greasewood, Sagebrush

And a thousand tiny, desert cacti.

.

Who knew that a sky could be so blue?

Or that those mountains there in the west

A hundred miles away

Would hold snow all summer?

.

In the mornings the mountains were gold

And shimmered in the distance like some mirage

In the evenings, they were tinted with rose

And seemed to float above the real world

.

Before then we had not known the quiet of the desert evenings

When all sound was absorbed into the opened pores of Earth

Or the night sky white with starlight

So bright we drove on those empty roads

With the headlights turned off.

Copyright 2015

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