Head near an open window feet pointed roomward I lie awake
listening to a late-night lullaby
of train hoots and rushing rubber,
noise during the day.
With care each note is separated
and attached to a picture
of some tired driver
red-eyed but resolved
to remain awake.
One arm hangs over the seat back
like a strand of ivy
while the other limbs
are locked lightly
at a precise angle and pressure
to give the beast beneath
the minimum assurance
that someone is in control;
assured, it hums the highway faithfully.
How gladly we would change places
the driver and I -
he yearns for a yielding pillow,
heavy blankets, and stiff, starch-scented sheets.
I yearn for his journey
probing new roads at night
with empty eyes
and antennae of light.
And then the tunnel's end
at that just so moment
when I realize with a snap
it's not lamplight revealing the sign
that names the town: Centerville.
From my bed I throw a slide show
on the wall beyond my feet
there are Chestnut, Vine,
Maple and Main streets,
a Woolworth's in red
and Dunn's hardware in faded sky,
a nameless barbershop
done in red plastic and old magazines,
Pix Bargain Shoes
done in polyester clerks,
Bradley's Budget Furniture
for brides buying bedrooms
of Basset and Broyhill.
And then peeling paint houses
with big trees and hard yards
all kid worn and season tired.
Rosy's refuge from road and rig,
''two sunny up, pancakes and sausage.''
All that is so far from where I lie -
a tuning fork
twitching to each car's call,
so far yet so near.