Sitting at a Picnic Table
at the War Axe Rest Area on I-80
near Shelton, Nebraska
 Paul McLaughlin


In the northwest, the last crimson reminder of a prairie sunset.

In the southeast, a full moon two full fingers above the even horizon.

Between them, an infinite cloudless gradation of blue and starsparkle.

Across the narrow lake,
four lanes of pavement streaking east and west across the Plains,
a miles-wide corridor of stink and noise,
a never ending cavalcade of dolby-grumbling, diesel-fuming
semi-trailer trucks, their red and yellow running lights mirrored
upside down and lengthened in the glassy surface of the lake.

Reflecting,
I like the garish ones the best, with solid lines of yellow lights
under the tractor door and far too many lights along the top.

The show goes on forever; this mile-long stretch of road is never still.


July, 1999

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