In the Middle Lane, Leaving New Haven


Dusk hovers behind the billboard,
“We Want Your Scrap Gold,”
behind the imported oil on the tank farm,
the rusting metal on the export pier,
the oversize flags on the auto dealer's lot.

Four out of five commuters drive alone.
In the left lane, a black bus
shrink-wrapped with characters for luck
hurtles past me toward the casino.
On the right, a white limo
accelerates to a wedding.
Side by side, we surge past
the hill leveled for a mall.
Who is the risk-taker looking for grace?

A cell tower marks frolic talk
as I exit toward narrow roads
that wind and rise and fall.
I steer into the shapes of time:
River Street, Water Street
curve with fishermen's work,
Leete's Island Road weaves
where farmers grew salt hay
and the last of the light
fades on bone-colored spartina.
Who is the survivor mapping history?

On Colonial Road, a developer
has been clearing for new houses.
Dispossessed, a doe and a buck
wander onto the asphalt—
Pay attention!
Braking hard, headlights high,
I hear an owl.
I might as well be an owl,
hooting at the ice,
lecturing the winter.

Snow coats the sand on the beach,
snow drifts over the sea wall next to the Sound.
On Cove Lane, my house resists
the January wind, windows dark.
My house is as cold as only a widow's can be.
On the porch: shovel, rock salt, firewood.

The Yale Review.