[38] On Easy Street, Tim Kahl

Once my brother drove from San Jose to
Chicago all by himself in little more than a day.
When I asked him how he did it, he replied
After I woke up driving down the highway
in Nebraska, the rest of the way was easy.
Yes, the difficulties always amass while we’re
asleep. They crash land into the emptiness
and take over the brain. I’ve seen it happen
in the flickering paws of the napping dog
scampering after the challenge of its next
squirrel meal. The exertion takes its toll,
the way it does on everyone: the joints
wear down to bone on bone, the cartilage
hardens in the back, the heart valves don’t
shut closed as firmly as they used to.
So it’s nice when you can steal some miles
on auto-pilot in a kind of dangerous state
of grace. You’re giving a break to every
unemployed angel who lends a guiding hand
on the wheel. Whoosh—the bridge abutments
go by. The curves straighten out. The obstacle
course of eighteen wheelers is run free and
clear. Another case of white line fever has been
successfully treated with a muffled prayer.
I can almost hear my brother snoring it,
past Battle Mountain and Elko, past Rock
Springs, Cheyenne, Sidney, past all that vague
green and brown not quite worth remembering.
My brother’s had years he can’t remember
and still more he’s trying to forget.
The jobs get dumber and dumber, the woman
gone, the grown-up kid who turned his back.
But if there aren’t any pictures, no one can
prove anything, and sometimes they just
flash by without ever really registering.
Then suddenly BAM—you’re one more
narcoleptic driver cruising down easy street.

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