Interstate Highway System
Adam O. Davis
In the beginning, I was incorporate, plain as skull, in cahoots though inchoate: a suit suited to combust— my body a blunderbuss brandished in traffic bright as dogbite. I drifted like sand under the wind’s hand, saw supercells & speed traps, saw God in the face of a forest fire. The sky was froth, the land foment: ichor & ozone, bee swarm & wildflower— every living thing shivering under the long-range bellow of the transnational semitruck. Thrush melodies tumbled forth from trees still full of the didactic temper of birds, but I could only froth & foment—my tongue diabetic with word, deeded as property in the gun safe of my mouth. Thereafter, I heeded hints & omens, held hearsay dear as a family Bible so listened smartly when gossip hopscotched households
like housefire. In later years I leaned prophetic, suffered visions—saw myself sullen on a windswept prairie, saw myself salved in a station flush with tropical disease, snakes shaking in my fists like bad mail. Still, when I slept I slept sound under the promise of diesel. When I dreamt I dreamt darkly under the auspices of convenience. When I woke I ate in the assurance of eating all I could. And when finally I corrected my iconography I wept to find my eyes ever-blue, the sun fled—clouds militant, the moon an ambulance of rock. Under its urgency I succumbed to the hobby of my body, held my health like a cigarette from the world I watched through drawn curtains, listening all night to the opera of wolves behind the motels of America. Wolves I ran with, wolves I ran from. I lived on stick. I lived on stone. I hunted myself any way I could.
This poem is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.