May 4, 2015

Alabama campgrounds
full of
spiders and bees
keeping me company
in the morning

drive through winding
mountain roads
woods lush and dense
running emerald walls
a majestic afternoon ride

towns full of fishermen
and beautifully groomed horses
sprawling plantations

American flags
hang faded from trailer porches
slung across mansion balconies

traveling only
on mountain roads today
set Google maps
to avoid highways
spend the afternoon
cruising at 40
wonder what it would be like
to go to high school
in Ragland, Alabama
brick building sitting
next to the corresponding elementary school
pass a sign for “Faith Baptist Youth Camp”

roadkill grows larger
as heat magnifies
shimmers off asphalt

church signs offer up
tidbits of wisdom
“it’s not that we work too hard but that we pray too little”
“a mother’s hug lasts long after she leaves this world”

when I take breaks
on the roadside
men stop to ask
if I need help
if they linger too long
I pack up quick

“is that yours?”
asks the old woman
with the hot pink lipstick
sweating under the Georgia sun
“I said, ‘that tiny girl can’t be riding that big ole motor-sickle!”
“I’d be too scared,” she continued
It’s fun, I reply
“oh, I’ll bet it’s fun,” she says

in the South
women look me in the eye
admire my bike
with faraway gazes

down here
people talk about
The North

the cemeteries
still bright with the colors
of every gravestones bouquet
which have yet to wilt
from the heat of Monday afternoon

“you blogging about it?”
asks the young woman
with the long, white-blonde hair
and glasses
pressing down the brake pedal of her minivan
holding a notebook and pen
out the window
asks me for my website
tells me to travel safe
her eyes turn soft
as they linger on my bike

pull up in Smyrna to find
the grill pulled out
laden with meat
a glass of sweet tea
pressed into my hand
an old friend wrapping me in a hug
for a proper welcome.