Two Scenes on the Road

by Michael R Allessi


The cold wind licked my face as I lumbered down the road:
affectionate, but still unpleasant; unwanted, but not unwelcome.
In high school, my parents got a new dog a week after my old one died.
Neither my sister nor I were ready.
The dog’s here now.
It was like that.

As I walked, my arms were full of mail and books and this and that—
I don’t remember. But I saw my friend coming down along the road.
Her eyes brightened as she saw me carrying my load: I'll come
to you.” As she approached, she asked me how I was out of habit. Then her smile died.
“I’m doing fine” I said. I knew that question was coming; I made sure I’d be ready.
“Just gotta get through the here and now—

Sorry, I have no hands to wave right now.”
My friend and I met each other’s eyes. We smiled. She spoke: “Now that,”
“That’s your poem right there, your Thing with Feathers.” I wrote
it down. Later, in my room, the words didn’t come.
They kept their distance the whole month after he died.
But I guess I just wasn’t ready.

I tried so hard to put words on the page, but good thing I wasn’t ready.
I don’t even know if I am ready now.
Sometimes, it’s like that.
If I’d written then, I wouldn’t have the other scene from the other road.
Another “poetic moment” would never have come.
Or, it might’ve, but then my interest in writing it would have died.

My parents drove past; someone had hit a deer. It hadn’t died.
Instead, it lay there, shuddering over the guard-rail, ready...
ready for someone to put it down. My mother didn’t notice, now—
she was too busy asking us how God could have done that?
How he could have taken her father away? Why then? My father’s eyes were on the road.
He saw the deer. His reply was slow to come:

“I wish this ass behind us wasn’t so close, or I’d ‘ave come,
I’d ‘ave pulled over, and made sure that deer had died.
Put it out of its misery.” In the back seat, I was ready
to scream. Exactly! Death is part of life. There is no “why” now!
It’s just like that.

But I kept my mouth shut, and we kept going down the road.

I wrote that down after the road took us home,
right under “I have no hands to wave,” a dozen pages after the dog died.
It’s been a while. I think I’m ready now. We’ll see if the words come.


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