The grass comes up so green. No thing here wants for water.
The mud goes down for feet. They’ll drink all summer.
Their roots will run deep. Scorched earth in black cattle trails
washed all around and throughout the trees. Seriously.
Ground as black as coal. Framed by fields of emerald.
Horse and buggy hugging the shoulder and the driver must be getting wet.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup out front just barely see their breath
join the fog in the air. They were once newborns. Foal legs unfold and tremble.
They’ll grow old and get winded and these good Amish will relinquish
their ancient technology into the earth. Not today though.
Ninety seven minutes from home. And the barn.
The familiar stall. The straw. And the dusty pile of hay.
That good sweet oat mule grain. Seed of something green.
Drinking deep. In the land of a thousand lakes
and short tempered rivers.
Where the grass doesn’t want for anything.
The horizon is on fire.
The horizon is my mind.
Sun sets long after the advent of eyes,
when you’re this high up in the sky.
Orange fog above city centers.
Blazen baseball diamonds pitched in black settings.
Lining roads. Highways glow.
Framed dotted lines of slow rolling headlights.
My love and I.
Buckled in trading turns yawning.
The young man in the seat in front of us is on chapter forty two.
The bald guy a few seats to the right asleep
in a way that makes my neck hurt.
We waited twenty minutes for a manual before we could take off.
They told us. Must have been a good one.
Breaking ice behind us.
Sauntering in between us.
Hands grace plastic lips on an overhead storage face.
Each body in its prescribed place.
Numbers beside letters
and arms rest side by side
and so many strangers.
No honey, do not take off your rings.
Ask for the pat down before ever removing jewelry.
Said the lady in the navy on navy pant suit.
Lavender latex gloves. Peach palms. Clocked in grin.
She is right.
She knows what she is talking about.
These sorts of things, rings, tend to disappear. She said.
Leave your hands bare. Instead.
Of just that one finger lingering on that left hand.
A young couple of friends in the air.
Both their counters elsewhere.
For a time. Like siblings in the care
of their mutual employer. Her father.
Their boss. Our loss. Is his cost.
And he puts a smile on to bear it.
He bought the ring. We wear it.
An arena in which we follow behind the rich and share
conversations with our phones while we bypass strangers
none the stronger for learning their angers. Their plans.
Why they run. Full hands.
Through airports at eight o’clock on a Wednesday.
Morning. Maybe. Mourning. Maybe late for a wedding.
There may be a new ring of her own to put on upon landing.
Such a thing as mystery demands to be beyond understanding.
Just worn out. And never taken off.
Even if it keeps you from taking off.
Once you have put this ring on,
do not ever take it off,
Oh wow. Look down. There are all the mountains.
All of them in the world laying beneath our feet like carpet.
Covered in trees. Like lips around rivers.
Cradled what passes for cities in the south.
Truth turned word of mouth. And west.
Into the shallower water of another time zone.
Gained an hour in flight.
Bypassing million year old rock mounds and dirt.
Laughing at you appalachia.
Looking so small from where I am.
Between metal wings stared through egg shaped windows down at you.
Knowing where I will soon be.
Imagining what all you have left to teach me.
Stretching out dull peaks just to reach me.
Wanting so badly for me to land.
To land like them.
All rebellious and bumped up steel and overlapping.
Sat down there like auditorium rows just clapping.
The guy a row back mouth opened napping.
Coke in a real glass, first class, free pass,
to mile above miles miles above
and look down on so many southern towns.
Baseball diamonds in silver chain link settings.
Swimming pools like blue beans guarding
the backdoors of two story houses.
Neither one that good.
Just what passes for a good story in the south.
As fiction as the world outside these windows.
Trusted like word of mouth.
Eyes stepping across all of the mountains in the world.
If they could only break through the clouds.
Driving all over the state in a jeep that should have never left the farm.
Visiting other states like they were neighbors just up the street.
Jumbled cities and towns connected by the elastic-bound coils of highways.
Lost thoughts to tiresome engines and air screaming high through undercarriage.
Virginia for the night. Tennessee on the way to getting there.
Southern carolinas for the cheaper gas and fat.
Let both time and the pedal be pressed. But not yourself.
Miles thump and roll below mountains conjured up from flat pastures
into green peaks that push white clouds, grazed by cows,
dotted by a house caught in a dark gray asphalt web.
Downtowns resurrected and loved and so much neglected.
Framed eyes above walking feet must see this old jeep,
this young me, staring, steering, praying feet down on pedals.
Fearing the day he does and nothing happens.
Feeling each hesitation in acceleration like the apathetic reality of God.
The great absent good.
Where a man or woman puts his or herself, there also is their faith.
Like abandonment, betrayal. Like that vehicle
would carry me a lifetime away from home
and just quit, give up hope, leave me there.
Jeep better left on the farm.
God like a towering mountain.
When you are happy where you are,
a daunting level of faith is required
to go just about anywhere.
Steady low rush of lines of cars rolling down I 85.
Sounding like a steady river, like a train with no tracks.
Deep, and groaning, and steady never ending.
In the shade of some kind of skin-wilting little shrub-like ornamental trees,
eye shaped leaves, still green, still in the movement of a steady late summer breeze.
Steady like the heat.
One wave after another like walking feet,
curling into worn out shoes, like big black tires
gripping that overcooked, worn down gray rock road,
where the traffic is only either stop or go and never slow.
Just race at breakneck pace or static. Bumper to bumper and in a panic.
For there is no middle ground on six lane roads.
There is no herd mentality grinding into burnt, smoke fuming engines in the distance.
They are all gripping wheels, chipping rubber, cracking chunks of asphalt.
Hugging shoulders. In competition with one another.
None are even considering their tight-necked neighbors.
Or working, slowing, showing caution to avoid the very worst.
Not even just trying to get on home, but,
to get there first.