By Sean Callahan
I didn’t come into this world
to be left traveling on back roads,
with no atlas,
no first mate,
making twists and turns into lands people call colorful.
But perhaps I’m colorblind,
because I don’t see the same shades
of red and green as they do.
I came for the highways–
at least people call them this,
but me? I call them
the only way.
Hovering above millions
of little rights and lefts,
billions of hidden trapdoors,
leading to quick escapes
that no one would judge me for taking,
because a lot of people did it too.
They turned headlights to the highway,
they placed their hands
on the steering wheel that gave them direction,
and they started driving.
But they didn’t know the rough waters that lie ahead.
Highways are not easy.
They are not slow.
They are not always safe.
Highways have strict guidelines,
tolls to pay,
rules to follow,
too many wrecks to avoid,
too many exits to watch for,
And at the end of the day–
patience is a necessity.
It’s something they lacked,
the ones who gave into warm motel rooms,
the ones who took wrong exits through state borders,
the ones who made U-turns onto the closest back road,
and never dared to brave the highway again.
I don’t judge the ones who choose back roads.
They are steering their life at their own pace,
easing on the brakes at the tops of hills,
shying from busy interstates,
because they aren’t ready.
But some of them will try again.
and when they do
some of them will wreck again,
some of them will pay speeding tickets,
many of them will dread rush hour.
But there will be the ones who will brave the tightly packed roads.
After maneuvering past trailers as tall as mountains,
living off cafe coffee and hamburgers,
spending hours on a horizonless road,
their patience will have paid off.
They will be the ones who will say they have navigated the highway–
I know I will crash. I will reroute to the nearest back road,
I will pay too many tolls to count on my fingertips,
and I will lift my foot off the gas pedal
in my happy place.
But one way or another,
I will discover how
to drive my dream car
through glowing cities at night,
over vast hilltops,
up rocky mountainsides.
And when I look to my rearview mirrors,
I will see the millions of miles traveled
upon my highway.