Mile marker seventeen

passes without word,

as all the others have.

(and as all the rest will).


To any outside observer

I am a point on this dark highway

a flash of light

into the black

a small


disruption in the motion

unnoticeable except to those that

know the sound of my tires on asphalt.


But I know what it sounds like

to pass a mile marker sign like that one

I know what it looks like, too,

despite the fact that

it's different every year.

(if it wasn’t,

how would I even know I’m moving?)


Mile marker five was a green blip

that tasted like pumpkin

and smelled like sawdust

and sounded like rock music.

Back then I dreamed of building a bridge over this highway,

making it bigger

making it broader.


I know this only because I have the benefit of rearview mirrors

and my headlights stay like stains on the road behind me.

I can see them, still.

They linger

but that’s the way it should be

if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t have anything.


They are my foundation.

Marks on my map that

I can’t trade.


Mile marker fifteen was

a new discovery of dusty albums

the grease of a drive-through meal in the passenger seat

and a


that wasn’t in the road, but


in me.


So what am I now?

What is this seventeenth one?

Can it be quantified by the thrift store flannel curled around my shoulders

the taste of coffee and night-rain

and smeared colors of a wrong turn?


Can it be quantified at all?


Mile marker sixteen was

chapped lips

and winter fire

and a blast of wind out of

the gaping windows.


But that was then.


And this is now.


I don’t want to define this by this one moment

or even by the ones behind me.

So maybe I’m just scared of what’s around the next curve

because the road trip ends, you know

but the road doesn’t.


I can’t really say

as it approaches and then whirs away.

So perhaps one day

I’ll retrace the worn map lines of my journey

and pass this point with a sigh

and say

“These were the best days of my life.”




even then

it will pass in silence.

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