Carrying Our Loads

Driving at night, my car a silent capsule pulled along the freeway’s string,
big rigs with great dane snouts crawl up behind me, nudge the air, snort
at bumpers like chained bulls. Cat-eyed lights rake my car’s packed
interior, reveal a single me, uneasy as a paper target at a shooting range.

The drivers in frayed cowboy hats or trim Stetsons, with old-god faces
dulled with the opium of miles, don’t detour from their compass
of purpose. Wanderlust is their only desire. Neither smiling
nor frowning, they grumble truck gears, pull out, wobble

my small car with their long trailers of secrets outlined in lights
like rodeo carnival rides. The drivers are guardians of roundups
I can’t see: apples, aliens, oil, calves, chemicals, or radioactive
uranium. Level with wheels, I watch the revolution of tires,

the rubber braille-bumps the roads thin to flung black
curls I mistake for fallen animals. Sometimes real ones rise
from the grass–hunted deer seeking safety in no-gun zones
who grow crazy with the consistency of headlights, leap

like saints into the promise of chrome. The drivers swerve,
but in the country music of night, no one stops for shadows,
or deer bounding into grass, though we glance in mirrors
that look back at all the shattered songs we leave behind.

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Carolyn Dahl

Carolyn Dahl was the Grand Prize winner in the national Public Poetry competition ARTlines2 and a finalist in the Work-Themed poetry contest, the 2018 Malovhr-Fenlon contest, and PEN Texas in non-fiction. Her chapbook Art Preserves What Can't Be Saved was published in 2019 by The Orchard Street Press and she is co-author of the art and poetry book, The Painted Door Opened, as well as three art books. You can find her website link below.

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