Poem by Tim Kahl • Photo by Jill Burhans
Half the gray sky has burned off, the delivery
trucks begin to gather at the stoplights.
The drivers on espresso, their work shoes on
the gas pedal, comfortable. The morning
is shaping up like a long line of customers
who expect to get some service for their money.
Another ordinary day at the marathon with
paper napkins on the passenger’s seat for company.
Eyes read the vehicle in front, the mind juggling
the license plate numbers, every car a possible
lotto winner. The fast pass on the left. The slow
keep moving, maybe wave to someone they don't
know, but this could be dangerous unless it
already happened once before in a movie.
Maybe the car by the side of the road isn’t
really stranded, just somebody who thinks
the road signs are the scenery and got out to
take a picture. Maybe throwing something
out the window is really a divination. If it
lands on a guardrail or gravel, the future will
differ. If it bounces, this is how many
strangers will try to keep pace with you.
Suddenly, the day which was way out in front
has slipped behind. It is the drive home and minds
are numbing unless it is summer, Friday, four o’ clock.
Then, everybody is going somewhere, taking items
with them—delivery as a state of being ready.
Eventually the weekend will arrive
and the truckers will no longer belong to each other.
No revving engines. No signatures gathered.
No routes rehearsed over and over.
But the highway will have burrowed itself
into the memory of those who drive for a living,
who drive to be delivered into a blank future
where half the gray sky has escaped its purpose
and the other half presses on like a sermon.