Monastic firs, marginal, 
    conical, in brooding snoods
a finical sun unpacks, clerical

in scarlet fringe of Interstate scrub.
   Raw nerves.  The fields beyond?
Dun bedsheets long abandoned.

Where is the body in such transit?
   Unclear.  But grief
is ever resurrected.  Sick days

in autumn, child on cot-raft,
   chaste bedroom chary
with red smell of measles, self,

lone bed her book transforms
   to Conestoga wagon:
cold rod of folded, frozen quilt,

two greasy iron pans, menses,
   waste of family crowded
in a space winter’s advance eclipses.

Cathedral silence.  Then door opens
   to a tray, tawny tea, weak as straw.
As whiskey grass, flashing now.  Fleeing past.


Copyright © 2021 by Lisa Russ Spaar. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 13, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

Driving can be a disembodied, liminal experience. Who has not motored for miles, lost in meditation, only to ‘awake’ to the fact that one has spent many minutes without registering a single exit sign or landmark? The speaker here moves through a wintry landscape which sends her plummeting back to childhood. The spell breaks when a door opens—someone enters with tea that in turn transforms into the whiskey grass outside the car and returns us to the all-too-fleeting present.”

—Lisa Russ Spaar