Sunday Morning, On the Road: a poem

By the third hour you begin
to participate in the liturgy for asphalt.
The road signs act as celebrant,
summoning the weary responses
from a tired driver, restating the refrain
of mile markers that holds a dull
horizon in stagnant equilibrium.

As the hours roll on, you recite
liturgies for yellow lines, the responsive
reading of black and yellow, black and yellow.
Car and driver alternate in the language
of scattered gravel. The pieces of a broken
journey now gather in rhythmic percussion,
praising the spin of wheel and axle.

This is a liturgy for wheels,
a circular procession replacing the dry heat
of earth, the fluid cycle of contact,
rubber on road. Resting on leather
you hear the breathless groans
from below: the last gasp of hubcaps
bearing the burden of steel sins.

This is a liturgy for lost moments,
full of forgotten signs, wrong exits,
keys locked in the ignition while the exhaust
offers its invocations. This is also a time
to recite the incantations for grooved pavement,
a time to offer up thanksgiving for 7-11’s,
the stretch of scenery, rest after a weary day.

—D. W. Congdon, 4/29/03