Thursday, February 14, 2013

365 Poems: Twenty-six Minutes


Day 45

I like weird words and little-used words and words that make people yell at me for using words they don’t know. So today I learned a really good word, ‘leitmotif.’ Do you know what it means? You can find out here. And where did I discover it? Reading this.
And then in the process of learning a new word a discovered a blog that’s full of Britishisms that is too fun to read. Go here.
And last night I went to book club, and we talked about a lot of good books, including the featured book for the evening, Louise Erdrich’s The Round House. I listened to half of it via audiobook and read the other half; the rather flat accent of the Native American reader stayed with me even as I read to myself. This book was described as the Native-American ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ to which I reply, not quite. But as a mystery-coming-of-age-crime-novel with details of reservation life, it was okay.
And in today’s quasi-poetic expression, I invite you to drive to work with me.

Twenty-six Minutes

Remember when Ginny
gets possessed by Tom Riddle
and loses long hours
she can’t account for?
That’s not me. 
But every work morning has 
twenty-six minutes
of mindless concentration
that's soon totally lost.
Perhaps it’s the rhythm,
the daily repetition,
the pounding down tracks
of the same Huntington
highway that turns on the
autopilot for those many miles. 
For twenty-six minutes
alone in my Outlander
except for Steve Inskeep
and sometimes Dave Greene,
my hands might be driving,
my eyes on the roadway,
my ears filled with radio
but my brain disengaged.
It might be a story
on Morning Edition
of contentious politics
or national portent;
it might be a worry
or some household problem
or maybe a daydream
or thoughts about lunch.
On very good mornings
when conditions are smooth
and I get all the green lights
between home and work,
on those brilliant mornings
perhaps when the sun
lights the fog in the lowlands
of the small river valley
the highway cuts through,
just on those mornings
instead of lost minutes
I’ll find twenty-six words that
find their way home.


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