Sunday, November 18, 2007

the dreams of roads

The road dreams it goes on forever. It can see itself on the other side of that hill; or maybe it can only know itself as a ribboned way that can’t see its own endings. Roads are built, but self-created. If a street had consciousness, would it think of its desire to be used, or resent the weight of trucks? Some unpaved desert tracks have a will of their own, curving themselves to fit unconformities in the local geology, disregarding human ideas of straight lines and geodesics. Some roads here caress the shapes of hills, but others are obviously made from a grid laid on a conceptual map: they pay no attention to topography, but are forced to drive through the land until stopped by a precipice or bluff too sheer or expensive to engineer around.

At night, the roads sleep, purring. They wait for daybreak and sunset to sparkle; they’re most alive when the light-angles are low to the horizon. Mid-day the highway naps in place, softened a little but after a heavy meal of traffic, trying to find a little shade for a siesta. In the fog, the road plays games with itself, hide and seek, pretending to go between worlds the size of a bubble of visibility. Around any next corner, who knows, is the twilight zone. Night fogs lend themselves to the clomp of horse’s hooves, a black coach passing by pulled by white phantoms; somewhere under the gaslights, old Jack lurks, blades glinting.

Night tires in the distance, the thrum of vulcan rubber on creosote, a sound like escape, the distance beckoning. Somewhere the desert remembers you, even as the sea breeze weathers you with salt and time. A track of crushed gravel, a paranoid ophiolite broken on its own shoulders, leads down the coastal cliff to a beach crusted with gulls. This terrain is haggard, a bowl of glop. Where the track meets the highway, the road argues with itself, making holes and dents barely navigable. The road sings of the hills to come. Will it remember your tires, after your passing, like so many other passengers, or go back to sleep? There are roads that don’t care about endings, or beginnings. The backbone for every flux, transition, and change, the spine of travel, a broad shoulder massaged by every footfall as you walk on, destinationless.

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Blogger Shameless said...

Wow, you had me back on those roads, breathing and feeling those pictures! Superb! :-)

7:43 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

That's great, thanks.

Can't ask for a nicer compliment for a poem than that it took you there! That's good to hear.

1:16 PM  

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