Crossing the Expressway



Crossing the expressway every morning
on the downtown bus, one more
alarm-clock desperado gunning for eight o’clock,
I lean over the concrete balustrade
not of just one bridge but of all the bridges
clear to the Carolina mountains, my daily
momentary glimpse from the red light at the overpass
down the shining asphalt,
the shimmer of traffic,
ninetythree million miles east
to the sun


Crossing the expressway at the bypass
where the six-lane splits,
I hike the scenic shoulder watching for my chance
to skip across the three lanes curving west
and on downstream to catch the tributary
on-ramp, striding backward to face
the westbound faces as I study the shifting, careening
spaces between oncoming cars,
poised on my leaning shadow
like a runner, ready under my load
for the sprint


Crossing the expressway every afternoon
behind this unmuffled motor
that yearns for the continental divide,
roaring home once more at five in this machine
that gulps a third of my minimum wage,
I glance down over the steel-reinforced abutments
of my life and my longing shadow
leans clear to the oncoming night
as I gaze westward a brief, blind moment
over oceans and continents
to the sun


Crossing the expressway in the giddy
interval between fatal missteps
I leap out over the southbound abyss, bent
under my sixty pounds, hurdling each
yard of air like a fathom of water, steal the four lanes
just like second base and scale the dividing wall,
then the northbound lanes, stealing home,
instinctively trailing a thumb now but
intent on anything but the radiator grilles
glittering around me, startled faces whistling past
at seventy