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
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.
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
that wasn’t in the road, but
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
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
“These were the best days of my life.”
it will pass in silence.