Driving through Pennsylvania at Night

Some days are night
highways left to us
to steer the stare
between reflective lines,
coffee in one hand, a radio
in one ear calling Willie
“classic rock.” Say what!?
Some days are just like that
and then the light shifts
and it’s not a semi-truck
barreling down.
Some nights end with
store clerks ignoring
an inventory of cigarettes
and saccharine.
They’ve all clocked out
and you tune in to wave,
to a radio wave.
Some days we suspend
disbelief to know the sum
of the distance from point A
to B without an app.
And so, you praise small things
to stay awake, the way
so long and relentless in its
Praise the half and half
in the Styrofoam cup, though
there’s so much wrong with that.
Praise for that roadside bottle tree,
a trellis for your thoughts caught
in the headlights.
Praise for that brown rabbit
in the selvedge grass that wasn’t
sprayed with poison; praise
for the median of ragwort
and oxeye
that wasn’t mowed.
Praise for that rare text
from your son
that spelled out “safe travels”
—a prayer.
Praise for the morning light
that held off long enough
to allow lament to hitch,
to buckle up in the passenger
seat, adjusting and needing
more leg room.

Photo by Josh Redd on Unsplash

Laurie Vaughen

Laurie Vaughen is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and currently lives in Boston. She recently completed her MFA in poetry at the Sewanee School of Letters summer residency program. Her work appears in Chattanooga Review, BPR, Crab Orchard Review, Greensboro Review and Laurel Review. In 1994 James Dickey selected her poem "Morning Walk" for the award that bears his name, which was published in the Lullwater Review at Emory. She was the recipient of the Amon Liner Award from Greensboro Review in 1988 for her poem "American Wife Opens a Package from Iran" which was selected as the best poem to appear in the journal that year.