The Large Swales in the Road
You jerked your head around
when you read the sign
Depression Ahead, drove
forward, and now you were.
You noticed them everywhere,
the large swales in the road
that when young and your father
drove at a speed your mother disliked,
they gave you a lift from gravity
and a thrilling scrape of the undercarriage,
sparks flew one time your neighbor said.
Your parents could not afford
the speed of a flickering movie,
so flew lightly over the earth.
Today that’s why you went out driving,
looking for that little lift from gravity,
that startling loss of your stomach
as speed and fulcrum launch you
from the pull of the earth, to joy.
Hadn’t your father always been sad
that he could not continue the cheating
of downward attraction?
Your mother held back her delight,
a soft smile cracking her lips
as she turned her face to the window
so that you and your siblings could not see?
Even in deficiency using this bump-shot
to elation was like a carnival ride
your family could never afford.
So you speed up, look for a large swale
to rise for an instant, your legs
avoiding the drag of gravity,
your brain floating
in the skull for a moment
mindless, and thankful,
of your continued poverty.
I don’t need to scoot ahead
of the curvature of the earth
and follow the horizon
to know the future,
write massive algorithms
of prediction accurate
to the tenth of a percent.
I pinch the soil every spring
and less holds to my finger
and thumb, spilling out
like pixie dust, and I poke
less sow bugs from my path,
and note how early the plum
blooms and the dogwoods,
once dependable in April
like taxes, now shower white in March.
The glaciers calve and unlike cows
they disappear in the fields
of seas and straits.
Near my father the summers move into
September and threaten
to stay until October,
like a browning fig
that lies too long on the counter.
I’ve heard that one can eat
more than one type of cactus,
so I’ve planted several
where I had snow peas and beans.
I’ve given up on mounds and trough.
All is now spine and prickle.
I can only push the dirt so far.
Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, home to forest fires, drought, floods, earthquakes, oceans, redwoods, and banana slugs. He has become nimble at evacuation. He has contributed to Heartwood, Williwaw Journal, Red Wolf Journal, and others.