Leaving Home

What air! We’re traveling between the twin harps
of the Memorial Bridge, descending
from another State, in the shrill rising
wail of our cats as we change altitudes—
traversing backwards the slave route and traps
of Maryland, Havre de Grace, the moods
Douglass carpentered into orotund
preaching, all those words he pried from the stunned
silence of the dead, words for being free;
in these times, fragile syllables that one
throws against the deaf walls of job and debt,
a small song to ward off calamity
of spirit. Later, crossing the Potomac:
Washington monument; a bruised history
nothing like the sun in our eyes or my
struggle with the plastic-wrapped mobile home
swaying its wide load, hogging the tarmac,
family on the move, America grown
steep in hope, its visible soul finicky
as shifting wind, the lean hands steady
of a father steering east, west, while we quicken
south, brush past, wave to the couple smoking
in the cab of the truck hauling three-roomed
happiness, their solvency in motion.

John Allman| Mudlark No. 31
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