We travel a gray line that makes a hard barrier between
us and the depths of earth, the metal frame of car another
way of dividing nature from itself. Dashes of paint mark
yet one more boundary, sets of rules, the dos and don’ts
that encase us until the only one direction of movement
is possible. He calls it traveling the open road.
On either side stretch undulating hills, so much grass
a person could drown while birds dive and float overhead.
Waves of prairie crested by hay bales, cattle, rare outcroppings
of paired buildings, house and barn. No dashes of paint there,
but fences split and quarter the land like a barbed wire net.
Cables rise and sag through the sky, carried by poles with feet sunk deep.
Dun-colored cow studies me as I ride by on this oddly narrow pasture
for vehicles. If the car stopped and I stepped out, would she think
I’d shucked rigid grey skin, discarded eyes that can flash like lightning,
hooves that move in circles, shed a body that smells like fences?
Perhaps she dreams of slipping out of her skin, taking a new form
to travel a new way. Will you have wheels or legs? I want to ask her.
Will you remember where you put your skin?
Merie Kirby grew up in California and now lives in North Dakota. She teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. Her poems have been published in Rogue Agent,Orange Blossom Review, FERAL, Strange Horizons, and other journals. You can find her online at http://www.meriekirby.com.
Artwork: Yuumei, Come Undone