The Road

         Better a monosyllabic life than a ragged
         and muttered one; let its report be short
         and round like a rifle, so that it may hear
         its own echo in the surrounding silence.


A life: pared to the bone.
Think of a room with no
chair, no bed. Like a monk,

I sit on a black square
in a patch of light.
In my mind, I sit there.

Or, a life on the road
that takes me here, there,
the trees in fall so bare.

And I with just
the rags on my back,
a gnarled stick to lean on.

Your life, held next
to mine, is rich and fat.
You walk with a pack

and wear a big straw hat
that blocks the sun.
You like things loud,

loud songs, and beat
a drum as you walk.
Hoooo there! you call,

but I let you pass.
The days and years
mount up as I walk on

toward a word dark
as night, black as pitch,
still as a held breath.

A place where a night
bird sings. It sounds
like Keats so I stop.

I build a fire,
sleep like the dead,
dream of a bright star,

and wake at dawn,
the sweet bird gone.
Then rise, splash my face

from the stream. Up the road,
a few souls, gray as time,
stand in a patch of shade,

their arms held out.
So it was for this! I think,
This life, this road! This!

and run as I have never
run, back to the beginning,
the very beginning.

They are all
where I left them.
And there is so much to say.

   - by Elizabeth Spires