Highway

The Poem     If a proverb can be a way to say it, if life can be a highway, then this was a week of heavy traffic.

Personally, I prefer a two-lane road, one of a country or–on a bad day–suburban variety, with cars traveling both ways. And as a speed limit goes, thirty-five sounds good to me, potentially slow enough to acknowledge the countenance of the other driver. To see that there is a driver, at least.

But this was a week at a minimum sixty-five, with four lanes of traffic going each way, which makes eight. A week of blowing horns, the Doppler Effect coming and going, the rapid-fire blast of car, bus, and delivery van.

All week around here it was lumbering thunder, and in the dust of the eighteen-wheeler’s wake, I dodged the traffic and made the best of it. I kept my head down. I took breathers in the tossed-up grit and gravel of the berm.

Thursday, I thought, would be a quieter day. I could, at the very least, stay home. The indoor traffic could be lighter; I could reduce it to six-lanes.

But before I was out of bed, one of our sons was at the bedroom door, needing a ride to school. Because three cars for four drivers is a privilege and a blessing, but sometimes it isn’t enough. And then there was the guitar lesson, which I had forgotten, and the grocery list, whose Doppler Effect was screaming ever louder in my ears.

I went out.

The Prose   The road outside the guitar teacher’s house is one with a view. I’ve driven it hundreds of times, but on Thursday morning noticed it’s a road traced by amber lines. As I pulled out of the driveway, these lines caught me by how they bend, how they follow the rise and fall and curve of the road.

On Thursday morning at 10:15, that road was feeling shadows it hasn’t known in a while. The tracery of branches is thickening now, the once-clean lines have blurred. The trees that line the road are taking on their springtime greens: chartreuse and loden, extremes of yellow and brown. Right now the trees are spun in these colors that soon enough will soften and meld, will be the soulful green synonymous with summer.

I had forty minutes to get home, shower, eat breakfast. But I drove slowly enough down that road because it split the tree-line. Between the implications of the leaves was a sky in blue and white and gray, clouds packed and drifting, fringing light and clutching dark, offering fistfuls of slate, pewter, lead.

And here’s the thing about roads, about highways, lined as they might be with trees or forests, with buildings tall and far as the eye can see: There where they are is sky, too, if only a narrow glimpse of it.

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