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Fennel

August 23, 2014

Rolling hills? I blame our

Somersaulting eyes.

Sight, he said, is the closest we get to

Contact without touching, which is why

It leaves us full of want.

I had asked him what it’s like

Driving an eighteen wheeler up

The Northwest, into the upper crust

And across chunks of the middle states:

When you can see the fog in the cracks of the mountain

And it looks like how it feels to be held by sleep,

Or by a beautiful woman,

The mountain becomes that much more eminent.

As he left I requested a souvenir of how he lives:

Something dirty and sweet, something summer

I wrote Yield to Sunrises in the film of the dust on the side of the sleeper,

I also left careful instruction to mind all clearances and steep grades,

Use low gear when necessary and to pass with care,

And I added mention of soft shoulders and blind curves

For him to remember me by –

It was the most honest poem I had ever written, he said,

Knowing so much more about truth than I.

He’s carried across state lines months of

Solitary hours and somersaulting eyes –

More potent than any metaphor, even this one about

Poems being road signs to direct a lived life –

Too cautionary, he warned, when you put

Your want into words, you are left with

One Ways, Do Not Enters and Dead Ends.

One year later he brings me a bouquet of Fennel

Between his burned thumb and busted forefinger –

Exactly what I asked for – more stories and

A present that smells like interstate exhaust, yet aromatic as chew tobacco,

Only a bit sweeter and in full summer bloom,

A companion to every highway: because you asked me how I live.

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