Mirage

Steve Jackson

At first there was nothing but white lines
to hyphenate the road,
with the next word of pavement
never quite coming.

On the inch wide
void between wilderness and civilization
pieces of amber beer-bottle glass
on the yellow ochre weed fringe
stretch to the west where vermillion eye of God
slowly surrenders to the violet-brown mountain.

As a violent wind whips garbage
up against the hands of wire fence,
tumbleweeds dance along and I can feel
the first gush of cool wind whistle
through my wheels
as they roll over a scarlet strain of wild blood—
a red police chalk line silhouetting
the body at the scene of the crime.

A mangled, spotted heap in the barrow pit,
it rests, waits, holding still like it was taught;
silent fawn’s eyes stare at shiny shards of glass,
wary of danger it need no more fear.

I hear only my tires whine, I feel only the front-end
right side shimmy that keeps my hand on the wheel,
And I see only up ahead billboards
that try to establish dominance for my eye: cafe,
gas, good food, clean rooms, trucks, last chance.

On the sidelines, in the bull-pen, big diesels
cough and grumble as they wait for repairs—
soon they’ll roar past me in a flash
of wheels and windshield wiper streaks
and then I will know what it is to be small.

Above white lines, on the horizon, clouds
post sentry for shafts of white light
and on the darker distant mountain
fire-lightning takes Jacob’s Ladder-cracks
at the charged earth.

No rain yet, only one large cloud
menaces, builds, moves, then cracks and the sky
unfolds into sheets of water that cover the road
with a wet skin.

The asphalt shines quickly, the rain stops, and light
shafts once again spear their favorite plot of land
as the eye of God
slips more quietly behind the jagged mountain.
Back down the road, past the dirty truck stops
and tumbleweeds and rivulets of water the blood
has been washed off the road;
now there are no clues, only shiny shards of glass.