In a flat land, if you get tired of sky,
you part the blades of grasses and look hard.
You tap at the part you've spread back, knock
at the roots packed as if to shut you out,
then drive hours and miles to spot another driver.
Just drink coffee and keep driving until Iowa
fades out and Wyoming in. Maybe someday
hills will shut out the sky, leave you buried
in their shadows. Cars with black windows,
blank like eyes pass you head-on and slip
back into where and when you ever were.
The sky gets worse at high altitude.
You put on sunglasses and buy more gas
from a man whose face looks like your own,
the one you tried to leave in rear-view mirrors.
Ask the snow to feel sorry, and it will turn
passes flat white, a poverty to match your own....
...until you know which roads you ran away on
and who battered you until you couldn't look yourself
in the eye, and drive back down to Iowa,
sun straight behind you until Illinois falls away
to a familiar elevation and everywhere's a sky
you aren't ready for but search for good signs.
*This poem must have been an effort to retrieve my old Richard Hugo voice and reads almost as a pastiche of his work. I was already well into my own voice by the time this appeared in a notebook. But even today Hugo remains a prime source for my writing, even if you can't hear him.