byDeborah Miranda
Five a.m., at the burnt end of a fierce October.
It's dark, quiet. I wish I were on the road,
traveling, a thin paper cup of coffee
hot in my hand, dawn coming up
on the horizon and all around me
the outline of shaggy pines, uncut pasture
flashing past car windows.

I'd go north into the foothills,
to one of the passes--
Snoqualmie is open, I think--
over the Cascades and down
into the flatlands of eastern
Washington. I could be there by noon time,
walk the arid soil beside the Columbia.
I'd sit in a lonesome sandy spot, listen
to the restless water, smell the scent
of departure.

This time of year, birds gather--
Canada geese in clouds of gray and black,
herons stick-legged under generous blue cloaks--
and my body, ready, waits for the moment
when wind insists, sunlight strikes
a true angle, triggering in my heart
some secret knowledge of direction.

From Indian Cartography, Greenfield Review Press, 1998.
© 1998 Deborah Miranda

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