Tunnel Vision

Driving north, I’m caught in an exhalation of weather.
Foggy breath blows a tunnel through the night,
obscures gravel shoulders and silo lights
beyond the edges of the QE2 Highway.
This night is dressed in a spinster’s gown –
white cotton buttoned at the throat
and billowing over curves, ditches and exits,
concealing accident and choice.
I squint through the windshield, trying to pierce
fog and dark, to find yellow lines and road signs
to hold me in and pull me ahead.
I press radio buttons and voices clatter down tin can alleys –
a preacher, a commercial, Springsteen charring short-waves.
I need to come through this obliteration to my front door.
I look straight ahead, concentrate on here, now,
getting back safe, going on
and on.
Something ahead –
the red coals of tail lights.
I suck them into my eyes, and let them burn.
All the way to Red Deer, I trail that truck like smoke.

~ Joan Crate

Joan Crate’s third poetry book, Suburban Legends, was recently released (late March 2009, actually) by Freehand Press. She lives in Calgary and Red Deer and teaches English at Red Deer College.

“I guess ‘home’ like everything else in life is fluid, changing. By definition (mine), home is a place where I am comfortable, though I’d be more comfortable in both homes if my kids would clean up after themselves more often! Nevertheless, they (including their messiness) do contribute to infusing a physical structure with emotional warmth.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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