Interstate Highway

By James Applewhite

for our daughter, Lisa

As on a crowded Interstate the drivers in boredom
or irritation speed ahead or lag (taken with sudden
enthusiasms for seventy-five), surging ahead a little by
weaving between lanes but still

staying pretty much even, so too the seeker in language
ranges ahead and behind–exiting and rejoining
a rushing multitude so closely linked that,
if seen from above, from the height

of the jet now descending, we present one
stasis of lights: feeling our freedom though
when seen from above, in the deepening twilight,
the pattern we bead is constant.

So we have traveled in time, lying down and waking
together, moved illusions, each cubicle with
tables and chairs, beds where our cries arose
lost in the surging engines.

Yet the roomlight where we made our love
still cubes us in amber. Out of the averaging
likeness, Pavlovian salivation at the bell
of a nipple, our lives extract their

time-thread, our gospel-truth. While Holiday
Inn and Exxon populate the stretch
between Washington and Richmond with lights,
I rewrite our pasts in this present:

recalling your waking, dear wife, to find
a nipple rosier, we not yet thinking a child
though impossibly guessing her features
the feathery, minutely combed lashes

the tiny perfect nails, though not yet
the many later trees at Christmas. Now
I know only backwardly, inscribing these sign-
ings that fade as the ink dries.

Remembering the graphlike beading of darkness,
I recall the ways that time once gave us–
distracted by signs for meals and clothing,
travelers, heavy with ourselves

defining the gift that bodies carry,
lighting the one, inner room, womb for
our daughter. Seeing from above, I read
this love our child embodies.

This Poem Features In:

Browse Collections By Category

Select from our entire catalogue of poetry collections: