Robert Vivian

Open Letter to Late Night Traffic

Robert Vivian

Already you are moving away in the dark at the speed of a cigarette flung out of the driver’s window to tumble in the air in so many dancing sparks and the shifting of the continent deep below toward the making and breaking of mountains and I go with you, each and every one, rocking semi and crying woman in an SUV, beams of headlights set on high in order to spot green, iridescent eyes staring from the side of the road or stark outlines of antlers prefiguring the kill zone and someone is talking on the radio, lonely voice, lonely cantor and believer, broken salesman or announcer intent on telling us the worst and above the voice your dry song stretched out across the pavement smeared with the bygone blood of appalling roadkill, forever gaining, forever losing, dry sigh expressing neither regret nor longing but something stranger, more mysterious, the vehicular world that is part of every heart and psyche in this rural county and beyond, the gigantic wind turbines wheeling in the dark and blinking as if to signal the catching of wind and turning it into profit, but you and I know the wind cannot be harnessed by any churning dynamo however well-meaning and we know your song is meant for a mystic’s heart who has given up all hope of understanding either herself or the night or the acorn in the palm of her hand and then there is the dark you have become a part of that carries over into day and tattered fields of corn whose rows spell out the amazement of earth’s journey to manufactured madness beyond the mega-stores that seek to slowly leech the people of all their savings and oh, how I hear you and oh, how I listen, vast and uncontainable hum skirting out toward the margins of America in so many grids of disappearance, my sere seeker of nowhere and nothing, here, now, and everywhere beyond speeding ticket and head-on collision and billboard proclaiming only God can set you free, late night lullaby and highway prophecy offering nothing, finally, but the drawn out sigh of someone on his or her way to somewhere, anywhere else.


ROBERT VIVIAN is currently working on a collection of dervish essays. And that’s it, he thinks. Favorite road? 127 heading north from Alma to Roscommon County in MI for how the topography changes and gets wilder and wilder, more trees and rivers.

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