Kate Crofton

U.S. Route 6

Where Are You Going?/ Call 1-800-FOR-TRUTH commands/
a half-flaming/ half-floating billboard/ I’m going
home after more than a year of breathing room/
now mostly certain I won’t kill my parents/ They both
have ponytails now and arthritis/ take medications
to lower blood pressure/ and raise thyroid function/
They’re not getting any younger/ and neither am I/
They get weepy on the phone sometimes/ and so do I/
Snow-covered grape vines merge/ into snow-covered corn fields/
industrial plants/ parking lots/ Sun reflects off all of it, painfully bright/
No one sees my watering eyes/ Something in my chest spasms/
for this heartland/and it hurts like homesick/ Once my mother
sent me to borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors/
boring brilliant blue sky/ lowland hayfields not yet flooded/
mile-long gravel crunch under dollar store flip flops/
wanting/ to be a town kid with a bike/
and a grocery store/ Who even does that?/ Borrows
the proverbial cup of sugar?/ This is the America that Steinbeck
wrote/ and I am of it/ I am it/ driving this car painted with the
salt and earth of the road/ I grip steering wheel with honey
mustard painted fingers/ Like Steinbeck I am a student/ of roadside
deliverances/ Adult Fun!/ Jesus Cares/ Soft Berm/ Trump
For America/ 3 For 1 Fireworks/ and Injury Lawyers/
Bitter Cold; Stay In Your Car/ Smoother Roads Coming/ All I know
is I’m not home yet/ This is not where I belong/ Christian pop barges
through the radio/ I skip past/ seek fuzzy NPR
impeachment coverage/ The defense counsel accuses/
us/ of indulging in impeachment lust/ Lust!/ Of course/ I am lustful/
We all want what we don’t have/ I long/ for the daydream
democracy my second-grade teacher promised/ I won twenty
bucks in a Daughters of the American Revolution contest once/
for an essay full of lies/ Mrs. Scott was a mean raisin of a teacher/
widow/ best flower gardener in the neighborhood/ She would
have voted for Trump/ She would have given her neighbor/
a cup of sugar/ The U.S. Senate collects a roll call of guilties/
and not guilties/ I try to keep a mental tally/ The guilties are many and/
not/ enough/ Moments between Mr. Scott from Virginia and
Mr. Scott from Georgia/ the radio crackles into /snow
white static/ Great Lakes silence/ country music hope/
I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor/ We can go slow or
make it go faster/ I step on the gas