You sent me pictures of the land
where I grew up. Yes –
it was just as I remembered
the tiny white-washed country store
at the corner of highways Z and ZZ
hills rolling wheaty and bountiful
blue-tipped in the distance where they met
the low, lazy puff of clouds rising perpetually
from the wide Wisconsin River.
“Amazing cheeseburger location”
said the website you’d found. And there
was a picture of the famous burger, shining
like an old friend’s face – golden hill of bun
embracing meat, swaddled in cheese
cozy nest of French fries
pickles humble as a dog.
We drove past that store, you and I
back when it felt right to call you
the love of my life, safe –
we’d already had our happy ending.
But I know what happens to all roads
ZZ turns to Rosy Lane, to triple H, to 18-151
but all end eventually, in dust or pasture
ocean or concrete.
And if you retrace your steps
along an ended road, it’s never the same
leading you into nightfall, a rocky cliff
of limestone and sand, an apple orchard
glimmering with the last rays of sun.
A place you think you were happy once, but
the road no longer leads there
or your own treacherous memory, faltering as dusk
has fed you a fiction once again
trying to nurse stability
out of the constantly waving fields of grass.