Two Poems from “The Afterlife” in THROUGH WATER WITH EASE, a new collection from Katie Bowler Young (poetry, ’07)
On the Ground
Can you write while you drive?
Hello, windows! Hello, wind! Hello, sour earth smell
and wheels on pavement with wind in my hair.
Good morning, Almedia! Good morning, fifth gear!
Where have you been all this time?
Good morning, water on the shoulder, bayou overflowing.
Good morning, blue sky Norco factory with your fires burning.
Good morning, egrets and herons and crab traps!
Crab traps? Good morning, good morning!
Good morning, LaPlace and roadside okra stands!
Now I’m passing Jacob’s World Famous Andouille and his two-story tall
plywood weenies. Good morning, Michael Taft, and thanks again for the CD
you sent last Christmas. I just found it under the seat—
Look, Ma, no hands! And this CD is called Arma Get It On!
Good morning, intricately carved roadside cross.
Thanks for not being just another couple of sticks
with fake flowers attached. Good morning, chemical clouds
over working refinery! Good morning, knee driving wheel
and ball of Spanish moss tumbling across the road.
Ha! I zipped over you, seventy miles per hour—
and you’re still tumbling across the road behind me!
So what if my husband and I are angry and driving
in opposite directions—is that why the road ahead
dissolves in shiny flecks of chrome and light?
I called Delta this morning. I said, Cancel my flight.
She said, I can’t refund the ticket. I said, Cancel my flight.
Who would let go of the earth at a time like this?
For years the trees had no one
to look over them.
Rains followed by drought
followed by floods and other hardships
kept them alone in the cycle
of winter, spring, summer, fall.
Sometimes they shivered
while snow balanced on branches.
Cars drifted past, wide brims of light at night,
not even a glance, and the ground
was absorbed with its own issues
of sun or shade, rain or dew.
Finally from a nearby window came the faces
of two girls and their voices calling to the birds
who sang in the trees, the deer chewing leaves,
the rabbits and squirrels, Quiet, be quiet,
our mother’s sick and she’s sleeping.
Day after day their mother turned
toward the window—awakening.