August 9th, 2007


Poetry Friday: On the Road

Today I drove through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.
I'm not kidding.
With my kids in the back seat, my iPod on shuffle and my nose turned toward home.
We're currently ensconced in a Holiday Inn in West Memphis which, oddly enough, isn't in Tennessee.

But needless to say, our dinner time conversation centered on Elvis and his Graceland, the weddings, impersonators and bejeweled jumpsuits, and the difference between Elvis and Buddy Holly. 

Mind you, my little gals are Texans so they knew all about Holly but not a hoot about Presley. What a funny story he is to conjure up and tell with any sort of credibility. It all sounds a bit, I don't know, kookie. But to add to the drama and verisimilitude, I ended up singing and doing a little hip demo. In the restaurant. They were duly impressed. The kids, I mean, not the waitstaff.

Maybe this is what happens when you go on the road for five weeks. You end up happy and a bit untethered. We started in Colorado and wound our way to Wisconsin and then Michigan. My L.A. jaunt got tucked in the middle there, and now we're making the long slog toward home. Don't even start calculating the miles. It'll make you queasy.

Our girls were born to road trip. They'll curl up in the back with their string cheese and bowl of cherries, a ream of construction paper and a book of MadLibs, and lose themselves in dreamland until one of them notices the truly prehistoric insectoid sprinklers crawling across the fields of soybeans and corn. Then it's back to recording all the license plates they see, sipping on a root beer and listening to one of the Herdman's books on tape.

My husband and I are always itchin' for the road so it's no surprise, I guess. Still, I'm gratified that they've acquired the taste for adventure, and the patience to roll along through the middle of middle America when the air's hot and still and there's not much to see. 

Travel's like reading, I think. You get a good view of the world out there, and a good view of yourself, too. 
Wholly worthwhile. Don't you think?

Here's one of my favorite Wallace Stevens poems, in honor of all that:

The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction...

(Read the rest of the poem here)