I spied everything. The North Dakota license,

the “Baby on Board” signs, dead raccoons, and deer carcasses.

The Garfields clinging to car windows—the musky traces of old coffee.

I was single-minded in the buzz saw tour I took through

the flatlands of the country to get home. I just wanted to get there.

Never mind the antecedent. I had lost stations miles ago

and was living on cassettes and caffeine. Ahead, brushstrokes

of smoke from annual fires. Only ahead to the last days of summer

and to the dying theme of youth. How pitch-perfect

the tire-on-shoulder sound was to mask the hiss of the tape deck ribbons.

Everything. Perfect. As Wyoming collapses over the car

like a wave. And then another mile marker. Another.

How can I say this more clearly? It was like opening a heavy book,

letting the pages feather themselves and finding a dried flower.

  • Oliver de la Paz, "How I Learned Bliss" from Requiem for the Orchard. Copyright © 2010 by Oliver de la Paz.  Reprinted by permission of University of Akron Press.

  • Source: Requiem for the Orchard (University of Akron Press, 2010)

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