Four Hundredth Mile 
Roger Mitchell
From The Word for Everything

I am 83 miles north of Indianapolis on I-65.
A few clouds are out and the corn stands
dead on its feet on either side of the road.

It is dusk and the light leaps up
to take its last look at the world.
It is September, early September, and the leaves,
though they feel the soft stroking of the air,
shiver slightly.
I am driving my four hundredth mile of the day,
alone now, and calm, the lights of the oncoming cars
beginning to sparkle in the dying light.
Huge flat-sided semis, as the night comes on,
pass like immense untroubled animals,
like the sides of houses in a flood.
How many times have I been here and not seen
the width of the sky, the slow curve of the landscape
going away, the tiny wire trailing after?

This is the place and this, undoubtedly, the way.
As much of the sky above as there can be,
as much of the earth beneath.
This is the place where the world appears
in its robe of night and day,
where the dirt road travels with us a ways
and then turns sharply along the ditch,
disappearing down interminable rows of corn.
This is the place where you can see forever,
where pure emptiness hangs on outspread wings
circling above a field.


The soul ranges everywhere and everywhere finds
what it needs, a stick, a fleck of matter on the tongue.
The bird at the top of the dead tree will fly
before I can see it, so I will see it fly.
The cow in the truckbed in front of me looks out
at the world and, if I'm not mistaken, sees it.
The car makes a steady wind-ripped thrum, the glow
of the dashboard rising into my eyes like dust.
I am somewhere between exits.  The promising sign,
"Vacancy," flashes above trees in the distance.
I am in no hurry.  The only thing in front of me
is home, a few stars, and another night.
I have tried to love what I thought was the world,
but the world moved.  I will love the move instead.