Should You Be Accosted on the Road to Mecca

by Ross White

Should you be accosted on the road to paradise by thieves,
should you be waylaid on the road to Shangri-La by butchers,
should you be diverted on the road to Xanadu,
should the other pilgrims similarly delayed look upon you with such pity,
should the guardsmen spit and laugh,
should you feel a sudden pain in your sides or stitches,
should the willows bend in patterns to suggest a more intense weeping,
should the gold coins fall from your purse to the soft dirt,
should you find yourself wishing for a homeland that’s no longer there,
take solace that the road was not carved or paved but worn by feet,
take solace that the feet belonged to travelers clothed as you are,
take solace that the path trod time and again seldom leads to nowhere,
but that the travelers made a life, as you do, traveling.

ROSS WHITE is the 2012 winner of the James Larkin Pearson prize from the Poetry Society of North Carolina. His poems have appeared in The Greensboro Review, Poetry Daily, Best New Poets 2012, and The Collagist. With Matthew Olzmann, he co-edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series. He has received scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and teaches poetry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.