Let me talk about the time
I drove through Nevada, stoned,
the mountainous Martian landscape
and red sun going down, the only towns
I passed through illuminating
Neon Indian heads advertising gambling
all the way from Idaho to Utah
on the interstate, and how I listened to the dark
sounds of My Brightest Diamond, her album
Bring Me the Workhorse for the first time
since sophomore year of college in a liberal town
in southern Indiana before Barack Obama even announced
he’d run for President, her voice sounding
like a strange bell in the night, or a wind chime
hanging on an old porch, the silver gleaming
in the half moon, and I listened, just me, stoned
on California weed in a desert lunar city
one state away from whatever liquid balm the Pacific gives
and how the apocalypse poised itself on the horizon
as I headed for the Salt flats, Shana calling for the no-good horse
to die, the useless beast, and in the rearview floated
my elastic mind, the plastic brain of youth
shrinking in the distance, like a dozen doors opening
and closing as I drummed the steering wheel, the first stars
slipping off the opaque drab of day, and I prayed
some kind of prayer to the gods of stillness, the highway saints
who jot down origin stories like some new age
Judeo-Christian queen, the lightness at the beginning
of being, and the sun’s Zen eye disappeared
as I crossed the state line into Utah and kept driving through Salt Lake,
Wyoming, Colorado to make my way over the Rockies
into the grain-filled expanse of the Great Plains,
the Billboard deities condemning my sins from the land of lawlessness
as I see some geese in the stubbled corn,
their reflections in puddles of melted snow, their trumpet beaks
squawking, and suddenly all I can think is Alabama.
Alabama, where the lives of snakes and turtles rise like heat
into the air, and the signatures of land snails slide down the stones.
I miss that Southern earth beneath my feet, like the workhorse
who’s done her job, fulfilled her role, Shana’s voice seeping
through the cracks of my clay potted self.
Dark beauty in the cave of my gut. I swear.
The deeper it goes, the lighter it gets.
Margaret Ann Graber is a poet from the Midwest. She holds an MFA from Southern Illinois University and a BA from Indiana University. A Luminarts Cultural Foundation Fellow in Creative Writing, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Louisville Review, Southern Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. Find her online at maggiegraber.com.