White Stripe · Holly Day

There is a stretch of highway in Kansas
where the guy who was responsible for painting the line
down the middle of the road fell asleep and drove into a field instead.
It’s not usually a problem to pass this spot in the daytime, although if you’ve
been following that white line in a hazy hypnosis, you could easily follow it into
the waist-high yellow fields as well, possibly righting yourself just in time
when the tires hit the gravel shoulder, but at night, this line will take you
straight off the road and into pitch black oblivion. By the time the tall wheat spears
slap against your windshield, you’ve driven far enough off the road for your tires
to be mired in ankle-deep mud and thick, black fertilizer.
You’re gonna have to get out and push, and quickly,
because there could be a semi barreling down that road, right behind you
someone equally unfamiliar with the this part of the state, this road
the dead-end that ends in furrows and swamp.

Every fall, when it’s time to cut down the wheat, the combine tines get caught up in
things stranded motorists have left behind—watches, loose change, dead cell phones
bits of fender and taillight broken off, hazards of tailgaiting out here.
Something like a quarter won’t stop the farm engines for long
but something larger, like a hubcap, or a whole tire,
or a desiccated body sprawled out for the crows
could put the equipment in the shop for days. Eventually, they say
that stretch of road will be fixed, but it’s not a very important road
with not that much traffic, not compared to the 135 or the 81
so it could be years before anything actually happens.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing).