By Patricia Williams
There’s a desolate stretch of highway
between two stop signs
and two corner bars
– bright islands in night-dark waters –
twenty miles from anywhere.
Sun-baked farmers in beat-up seed caps*
patronize both places – laugh,
repeat old stories, tell old news,
talk about the weather, guess
how many deer roam the back forty.
A disillusioned woman, restless and lonely,
looks for an evening companion,
a tryst in the parking lot.
Somebody’s kids eat French fries,
play arcade games in an alcove off the bar.
A grizzled regular, lank-haired,
spare and hollow-eyed, stares at the TV,
locked in self-imposed silence –
lives nearby in quiet desperation, exiled
from the present, nowhere else to go.
Lighted ports in evening seas ease
more than weary bodies
– keep more than thirst at bay –
halfway between somewhere
* seed salesmen give farmers caps bearing their company logo.
Patricia Williams taught Cultural Design at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point for 27 years and began writing poetry in retirement in 2013. Her first chapbook, The Port Side of Shadows: Poems of Travel – Inner, Outer and Uncharted Places is due from Finishing Line Press in Spring, 2017. Williams’ poetry appears in print and online, including Fox Cry, Haiku Journal, Liquid Imagination, Midwest Review, Negative Capability Georgia Anthology, Poetry Quarterly, Silver Blade, Stoneboat, Third Wednesday, and others. She lives with her husband in the Wisconsin countryside, where she is at work on another poetry book.