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Conversation with US-95

I drive north, wondering

about the first boy I took to meet my

parents, driving 80 mph in my 2003 Subaru

flying past the slow lives of farms and

greenhouses not even 100 yards from

the graveled shoulder and brown pineneedles

we didn’t talk much, he

and I, on that trip only listened to

the hum of the engine hugging the winding

corners, but maybe we

listened to some music that

I kept quiet enough for the

potential of conversation

yet it was mostly just the

trying sounds of the car

making its ascent into the mountains

into the mountains, where the frost still clung on

outside of Potlatch, just after the rest-stop,

I told him I was nervous and that

I hoped my family would like him

and asked if he wanted to take my dogs

on a walk to see the waterfall of the dam

which was fully open during the March

weekend we’d be there, I slid into

the passing lane, the cars behind me getting

smaller with the hill where it goes back to one

lane so straight I realize how fast I’m going

but the nerves don’t let me slow down,

it was windy and my hands shook

in time with grasses ahead.

The boy next to me,

a misty reflection in the window, stared forward, unmoving

perhaps thinking of me but perhaps

wondering if I’m going too fast. I

could never really tell what he was thinking,

but I never thought it was of anything significant,

like what the lives were like in

these small towns hidden

away from our world, or

Speeding into something dangerous

that we were too young to understand or

if I’ll have someone to be there

when I get hurt.

Today I’m going slower, my passenger seat empty,

the road telling me I’ll get where I’m going, no

need to rush over the Palouse hills or

around Plummer’s forested corners until

arriving at the final descent, the lake’s shore,

a passing logging truck, debris

clouding my vision, my hands still shake

in the wind and I still wonder what lives

among the fields and swaying pines.

I look over and catch my own reflection,

built of steel and quartz against

the amber seas capped with

emerald trees past Tensed, wishing I

could’ve pulled over and

saw for myself.

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