All these long days since you’ve called have been as the early winter, a knife through a frost-bitten town where lonely men give confessions over long-distance lines and drive the night road to cafe lights across the bridge for coffee, ballads and water-color postcards.
But they only find snow across the lamplight, a cold turn of metal; at 29 below, a floorboard’s groan, sounding hard into winter, like three trumpeter swans leaving this place.
Photo taken near Lolo Pass, on the Montana-Idaho line.
You say there’s no waiting & so here I am with coffee, cooking oil & bread & I don’t know what to do with my hands as I watch your slender fingers caress these things of mine Just thinking of anything, wanting to say anything But “yup” as the register rings (along with every thunderous clock in this one-horse town) to a drumming in my chest I fear you can hear, a wounded Dimitri Tiomkin score And now an exchange of change, pleasant things & Saturday smiles Then it’s dust at my boots and all the worn-out tiles Off I go, like that, with a bag in my yearning arms, dimes in my pocket as thin as tin stars
Maybe the sky has always loved the shape of this place, as has the ancient sweep of the wind. The wind is your lullaby; your bed the horizon. The meadowlark sighs softly.
Should you close your eyes, you might fall away into the grasses of this spinning earth, crazy with a sudden awareness of tumbling through the cosmos, and that electric hum through your body as you drift into a daydream.
In that dreamscape, you could be an ancient hunter-gatherer pushing farther onto the steppe than any human had ever dared. Or a pair of eager eyes watching for the prairie schooner that brings your English bride from the East.
But you are not an ancient traveler or a lonely settler in your Sunday best. You haven’t time for daydreams. And yet you are here, content to remain a while longer in this beautifully empty space. To listen to the wind and think of nothing but these things.
On the broken edge of Wisdom since crossing the Great Divide the sky fills with endless as I count coyotes listen through AM static to faraway ballads, steel guitars in waltz time, and try to remember the last you said to me in letters postmarked nowhere some 20 years down the line
Photo by Buddy Smith
Note: The words are lovelorn, but the actual mood when I took this photo was jubilee. It was late summer, a rare Monday off from work, and in another 20 minutes I’d be knee deep in one of my favorite trout streams … the road leads to magical places.
Through a lens of age that Newton built I saw that Galileo had been true: Venus was just a sliver of cold, blue moon. Truth came too late to prevent the journey—Orion starboard, my North Star to stern.