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On The Side of the Road

Author: Astarael
ASL Info:    19/Girl/Baltimore
Elite Ratio:    5.34 - 87 /102 /38
Words: 417
Class/Type: Poetry /Misc
Total Views: 1056
Average Vote:    No vote yet.
Bytes: 2764


Our third assignment for Intro to Fiction and Poetry was to write a narrative poem focusing on setting and how it adds to the meaning of the story. In class we read Philip Larkin's "Church Going" and Yusef Komunyakaa's "Sunday Afternoons."

On The Side of the Road

We had been driving all day from Flagstaff.
Muddy Waters was blaring in clips
through the static on the radio.
I had the windows rolled down
and it was beginning to get cool.
Seeing the sunburn on my left forearm
boiling under the green ink of my tattoo,
I regretted that I hadn't pulled my sleeve down
earlier in the day.
One of the guys hooted from the back
and I swung the old pickup
off the road
onto patches of stubborn deer grass.
The boys hopped over the sides
while my own boots thudded on the hard ground.
and I coughed red dust.

The tremendous sun sank heavily downward
like a big sigh
across buttes and mesas
as its fiery glow reflected off their sandstone walls.
We sauntered towards the lone trailer
with white paint chipping off aluminum sides
where a family sat outside in metal fold-out chairs
hawking trinkets on a long table.
Mother with her newborn
and a twin boy and girl,
maybe eight years old.
An aging man sat off to the side
in a threadbare white tee and faded jeans.
He was whittling a figurine with his penknife,
the tendons in his arms
pulsing with each cut
and his cigarette
burning down between his teeth.
As he looked up to meet my eyes
I saw the deep crags in his brown face
mirror the rocks in the distance.
The wind whirred between us like a ghost.

The boy and girl ran to meet us
as we approached.
They were clutching fistfuls of woven bracelets,
two for a dollar.
I bought four and sifted through the contents on the table
while the mother watched,
black braids framing her plump face,
brown eyes hopeful in anticipation.
All the while she stroked the baby's head.
My gaze fell upon a leather belt
with painstakingly beaded designs.
"This is beautiful!" I exclaimed.
She nodded in acquiescence
"Twen-ty dol-lars."
I fished two tens from my pocket
and briefly felt her smooth cool touch
as I laid them in her hand.

When the rest of my crew
had found their treasures,
we scuffled through the sandy soil
back towards the road.
Darkness had begun to fall
and I saw the first dim pinpoint stars
emerge from the purple-red sky.
I shifted the old truck into first
and a single tear slipped down my cheek.
As we drove off
The purr of the engine
was the only sound breaking the silence.

- September 20, 2008

Submitted on 2008-09-21 14:35:06     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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  I am not sure if the tear is too much...
you could do something like -

I shifted the old truck into first
and [my heart sank].
As we drove off
The purr of the engine
was the only sound breaking the silence.

or -

I [sank into] the old truck
[barely able to shift into first].
As we drove off
the purr of the engine
was the only sound breaking the silence.

something to that effect... Rather than have a picture of it, one gets a feeling of it.

I have to say too... that the idea of not trying to bargain over the price of the belt makes me smile as the greater worth is seen. Where I live, there are not many Native Americans, though my x was part Lene Lenape...

There is compassion here, an understanding of circumstance, a getting it... ya know? A feeling it. Somehow I am grateful of that knowledge...
more people should feel this. Understand this.

hmmmm. not sure if any of that helped or not.
still a great poem.
| Posted on 2008-10-06 00:00:00 | by isabella | [ Reply to This ]
  There is something comforting about this piece. And I love the way you have woven a story of sorts... You had me at Muddy Waters to be honest. I think what I like most is the descriptive nature; the people. It sets a tone. It sets a moment. But mostly, there is no judgement which I appreciate. It is refreshing. I don't know, maybe I just have a penchant for old trucks and boots and wayward days. A friend let me borrow his old blue pickup for a bit when I was carless... what a fun kickit kinda ride (smile). I think the best memory about it was driving on the highway at the beginning of spring and all I could smell were lilacs. Also, the looks and smiles I would get. I never realized people found girls driving trucks to be so interesting.

I enjoyed this.

Yup... I love unspecifieds!!!

| Posted on 2008-09-22 00:00:00 | by isabella | [ Reply to This ]

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