Pause for Water Off I-40 Poem

Pause for Water Off I-40

I have bathed my feet in spring and fall
where long fields of wind lift the slightest slopes,
curves of black soil, stripped my socks off to test 

the icy springfalls. By concrete highways, flame
azaleas, lichens under the rhododendron, laurel, 
thick-leaved succulents, sturdy like the resident
 
base of broken mountains themselves, passages
wrenched through their rocky ages. The water
purely drinkable then, too risky now that fresh 

rain weaves stinking in the clouds. Somewhere
I heard that mosquitoes ride on droplets, diving
off before the splatter, as in that kids’ myth that you

could ride a falling elevator, then leap upward at
the last second to save yourself from shattering. It
took years for me to envision that roof still crushing

downward as I might have lunged up to cushion the fall
to the floor. The flattening, sandwich-style, now seems
quick and complete as salvation itself. Odd, how safe

obliteration seems in that mise en scène, that foolish
dream of escape, that cool, bloodless nightmare.
Foot-bathing was even finer than I expected. Fresh

off the accelerator, clutch, and brake, but stale without
my knowing until I felt pebbles topple in the tiny pool,
slack blood hastened by the shifting geology, ponds

farther down the road, haunted by sensations beyond
ideas, shushing the worn-out veins, I breathe underfoot.

Plaque Alive, on Concrete

Tethered to my wrist, they saw him first,
spraddled like a pelt out to cure, his tail
as flattened, clutching as the rest of him
to the pebbled concrete wall over there,
only four leash-lengths away. Spectacle!

With tinted windows tall on each side,
he had nowhere to go, it seemed, and a nut
in his mouth, as he swiveled at the barking,
turned as if a pin through his belly spun 
his little bulk, abs like a free-range

rock climber’s, that guy whose little finger
could break your neck or lift his whole
spidery weight to the sunlit summit. Squirrels—
what can you do? Some of us clamor, some watch,
while they twirl like grey bankers toward a bonus.