THE HIGH ROAD TO TIFFIN by Jake Montgomery

THE HIGH ROAD TO TIFFIN
by Jake Montgomery

moves in gravelly time, so that the words I say here
………….have been said before, and my car
is covered with the dirt and dust of little cabins
………….where people live on the sun,

the rain, where a Methodist lawnmower tells
………….a joke, Lake Oswego trims the road
to its original purpose, a bridge, and the bridge
………….bows before shirtless horizons

who meet and touch at dark, two copious youths
………….egging the other on, looking through glass,
listening to goats jostle for food in a nearby
………….stable. Their horns must be cut

or they fight. When we pass a soda machine
………….surrounded by lily pads and empty water,
the light changes, the youths following us
………….in the corners of passing eyes, two

gowns twitching between a window
………….and a wooden pole, without music,
grand vision, or a single thought. There
………….never was a plan, and when I circle

the cul-de-sac at nightfall,
………….it is like walking through
a neighborhood of my mind,
………….and though I cannot open the doors

to the buildings, I enter
………….whichever backyards I please
and pee on the mulch and follow the deer
………….carefully such that they learn

to trust me more than I can be trusted.
………….As we drive across a blue map of names,
it is like watching myself swim
………….before the camera is invented.

Shadow Lake, Dollar Lake, Lake
………….Molasses—I dip a moment into each,
dry on their sandy rims. When a diving bird
………….or breath disrupts their surfaces,

the ripples extend inward, and we pass
………….a hole-in-the-wall cemetery.
A small bell above its gate rusts,
………….and a dark hooded figure

sprays air freshener on the tombstones.
………….A mouth can chew its tongue until,
like dusted orange rind, it doesn’t need
………….to speak. Ask the wind-

licked silos and biblical grain malls.
………….I plan to get married in one
the moment I die, for everyone to look up,
………….searching for me in the weather.

The bell—no, the cell phone—lifts me
………….from the car to a grassless hill,
and when I drive between stanza breaks
………….and questions only friends can ask,

and the idea of light exits the stage,
………….I forget who I have been since childhood.
Wigs float through a field. A photogenic
………….courage rests on the swing sets,

a dusk I do not depart. How could I?
………….My friend in the car has been talking,
as we pass old tractors and pieces of fallen sky,
………….frozen gas pumps, reality machines. Children

play in the twilight a form of baseball
………….from the future. They are not wearing
gloves or keeping score. They finger the dirt,
………….almost taking the road ahead of us.

At a stop sign, we hang lanterns in our skulls.
………….When my friend boards a plane
flying away from the sky, it is the end of October,
………….each day newer than the last.


Jake Montgomery is from southern New Jersey. He received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Belle Ombre and The Big Windows Review.

 

 

 

 

Image credit:  Wes Hicks on Unsplash 

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