CROSS-COUNTRY DRIVE, 1996
Three days in
we broke the border of South Dakota
and the sky opened up, an inverted bowl.
All day I itched to reach Oacoma.
We high-fived as we crossed the flat Missouri.
So much time spent on the Mass Pike
we'd memorized the words:
Highest Turnpike Elevation 1724 ft.
Next highest on I-90 in Oacoma SD (1729 ft)
For years we'd wondered
what we'd find at the road's peak.
But there's no sign
to match the one we knew back East.
Unremarked-upon the prairie just ticks by.
Isn't that always the way.
Anticipate for days and still
the high point only becomes visible
in the rear-view.
When I saw that this week's Totally Optional Prompt was "Road Sign," this came immediately to mind. The road sign referenced in the middle of the poem is in Lee, Massachusetts. During the years when we drove to Enfield, Connecticut every week to study karate, we drove past the sign twice every Saturday. Discovering that there wasn't a parallel sign in Oacoma was something of a let-down. All these years later, though, it feels like there's more to the memory than the surface narrative might suggest. I hope some of that comes through in the poem. Happy Chanukah to all!