Barbara Lau

Drive, he sd

and we did — sea
to shining sea — back when cars
were bugs, gas was cheap, and hitchhiking
wasn’t an act of lunacy.
Drove thru valleys crepe-papered
in haze and purple
mountains that kissed the sky,
that pissed coal dust
into four generations of lungs.

Thru 900 miles of prairie
plowed down
into amber-tasseled waves
of corn, soy, cash
crops the sun crowed over.
The crickets’ pitch was so thick
you could float on it.

And we did, because the wind cried
Mary, and draft numbers
were always talking, talking to us.
Why not buy a goddamn bigger car,
you sd, sec the Sequoias
taller than freight trains are long.
On to Route 1, look out
points at every curve.
I stalked ghost crabs, you
gawked at the picture-perfect towns
with their diminutive lawns
and diminutive Japanese gardeners.

Still and all, darkness
surrounded us — in the Sand Hills
of Nebraska, the silos of Iowa,
the comatose Dakotas .
We drove. for Christ’s sake,
anywhere to outrun
the sight of rice paddies, napalm.
body bags all in a row.

© Barbara Lau