Above Us

Sometimes the road stands out in stark clarity. When the asphalt is wet. When there’s a lull in the rain. You can see the double yellow line as if it’s some hovering astigmatism, a brushstroke, glowing, bioluminescence that stretches for miles and vanishes in the dips. The asphalt glitters beneath the thinning clouds. And there’s a sound that follows. A song from underneath. A wet hiss and a low hum. If you turn off the radio. If you aren’t talking to yourself. The best thing to do when you’re driving long-haul is to listen. Not to what a mouth might say but what the road speaks back when it isn’t running. Yours, or somebody else. You can channel the low groan of the very earth itself. They say all things are connected. Even the slightest vibrations will travel for miles. So what might the molten core offer as a soliloquy? As a poem?  Today, driving seems to be the most effective means of communion. Between my liquid self and what appears to be the solid ground I stand upon. I drive. It’s something about the rotation of the tires. And light friction. A channel opens between the earth and the sky. What am I but an antenna through which the frequencies are sent and received? I remember a time when the rooftops of Queens glittered too, a forest of aluminum and galvanized steel, devoid of leaves, a matrix of perpendicular and parallel lines, like a cemetery filled with metal crosses, spindly, unmarked graves, flashing by the train windows in blur. If I take my eyes off the road for a moment and look up through the sunroof what I see are the mottled gray clouds that mark the lower rim of our atmosphere. I think of flesh, soft tissue, not epidermis, the stuff inside our bodies you don’t see unless you’re in real trouble or war. I think about being inside the body. Fantastic Voyage. A tiny ship tossed in a current of blood. The road before me is rigid and there are many barriers and signs that are hard and straight and fixed. That’s what we do, we humans. We impose straight lines and right angles on a world that resists them, that crushes them, that pulverizes them over time. Our vanity is that great. The road is hard and flat so I can travel smoothly at high speeds over the surface of the earth and that velocity, that smoothness, creates its own frequency when we pass above it on our one great invention. Our wheels. That’s the frequency I tune into. That’s the station I seek on the dial. WORL-D. Below us, below the wheels, is a place as sweet and solid as the top layer of a creme brulee. Above us only sky. I can see it there framed within the rectangle some robot arm cut out of sheet metal somewhere in Korea. A sky-light. A moon-roof. A window to the stars. I’m pushing seventy-five and I can hear the low chorus of the asphalt, harmonizing with the tires. It’s a symphony we all wrote together. It’s one of our favorite pieces. It must be. We lock ourselves into our metal boxes and we drive. We drive.

o O o

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