Driving back to my blue mountains,
I am less than ever at home.
Another bomb blast in Iraq—
46 dead, 90 wounded—refuses
to recede to background noise.
I turn the radio off.
When I was younger, the future
was all pulse and promise,
but middle-age doesn’t offer
I suppose I believed
in something like progress, ascent,
however gradual, like this ribbon of road
from Lenoir to Blowing Rock,
the way I hardly notice I’ve risen
from the piedmont hills
until sheer rock face on the right side
and a sharp drop to streams on the left
It’s we humans
who love the straight line, want
to be spared the looped intercessions
of mourning and grief, even though
all around us–the whorl of seasons,
day and night at each others heels.
I’m not retreating to theories of inevitable war,
but I know the dead have to be mourned.
If we’re going anywhere at all
surely it’s nowhere we know,
the route more like a good conversation,
all give and take, not the hard drive
of the rock and roll beat
our soldiers play during battle.
Now even this road I’m on winds—
an engineer deciding years ago I suppose
not to blast through solid rock.
I wend past rhododendron and mountain laurel,
stubbornly green through each long winter.
Spring takes its time here—
we’ll be weeks behind your azaleas.
Like my saying what you already know,
I’ve grown accustomed to late blooming.