Mapping the Route

by K.E. Ogden


I've been driving for miles heading north
away from air thick with rain, my pockets full
of foil-wrapped biscuits smeared in strawberry jam
and bacon bits. The blacktop is rotting
copperhead. The open atlas on the dash
is marked in orange highlighter by my father.
This is the route away from home, he said,
still smelling of sawdust and pine sap.
I step on the gas. My calloused feet can walk
a hot gravel road all the way to the pond
and into the muddy banks where we once saw
a deer swollen with gnats and bees.
It all meant something else when I was younger,
that dead doe a signal to let go, to surrender
each prayer to the sky, to the cornfields,
to the catfish scumming the surface
of the pond where we threw tires
and old truck parts. Where we threw
that deer on the count of three,
then headed back to the porch swing
and slurped coffee until the heat took us all.



This poem first appeared in What the Body Already Knows, winner of the 2021 New Women's Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press

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