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Detail

Detail

This poem by Elizabeth Crowell was published in Issue 1 of The Lakeshore Review.

The officer listens to the twitchy static of the radio,
as he sits inside his car watching
three workers in three, yellow hard hats
pull orange cones from the macadam.
They have filled a crack gleaming back,
written their single line on the road.
Three hours of watching
the dense labor of filling one line,
of considering a raccoon’s body,
fur and blood, go flatter on the road.

There are black-eyed Susans
by the thick woods, the kind of woods
they search when a child goes missing,
hoary, leafy, all the trees double-trunked.
Done with his detail, he remembers
his mother’s white apron,
bibbed and eyeleted, blowing in the wind
as she picked black-eyed Susans
in the front yard garden
for the spider-cracked
porcelain vase she kept on the
doily of the round, green table. 

The road gleams a purple sparkly burst,
and then, in the shade, goes plain gray.
He soars down the nearest exit,
and drifts back to a stop.
It seems a choice, left or right.
One way opens up
to a field, barbed, bent
wiry fence and two horses,
gray and brown, and tufted grass,
and a red barn, round roofed, square-edged.
The other way, a scattering of houses,
and then neighborhoods
with sprinklers’ spin, the slanted drives.

Somewhere, there must be
the fact of where he was going—
a home, the station,
the brown turn of the river,
but now he just stares
at the arrow-filled sign
and the beyond of trees.

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