Driving the Dams at Night

In the day, so early even
that the red rock
had not yet caught fire,
still tindered politely
in the jaws of the sun,
a man runs in the bike lane,
slow and measured like a pro.

I’ve seen him from behind
the last three days,
my underpowered car
doing thirty-five up the hill.
Here, even fit cyclists
struggle on the dams,
seven miles of steep foothills
along a gaunt reservoir
below the Rocky Mountains.

He wears an ugly woolen cap
and baggy pants.
I wonder what brings him
clockwork out:
is it the smell of sage
in the morning wet?
The huge expanse of plains
mapped out below?
The greening of the grass?
The earth awake?
But he never moves his head
for the view.
His view is other things.

I’ve seen the same labored gaze
in the mule deer on the drive,
raising their great cupped ears
to the sound of the car,
and then back to graze.
It’s what they do.

At night the runners and the deer
have stepped away
and the car’s high beams scan the road.
I’ve had a little wine.
Not enough to blow over the limit
but enough to know,
on the edges of the rural road,
still gathered,
are all the hunted, hurt, and haunted
specters of the world.

One thought on “Driving the Dams at Night

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