Thomas Lawrence Long
The white frame rises beside a county road
You often travel and pass into oblivious night.
Picked-over fruit in long porchside bins waits for
Revival in the morning’s delivery truck. Cloudy light
From whitewashed walls and tin ceiling drops through
The door and runs across shoulder gravel like hope.
Some night going home you will decide
To stop here. But not tonight; headlights grope
Through dark. Beyond rickety produce stalls you
Would find Octagon bars ranked among hierarchs, clothes
Pins, toilet camphor, sardines in tins, bread, playing
Cards, dream books, sacks of dried beans promising order in rows
Of merchandise and dry goods. Everything you need is here.
Dust and shelves float in the incandescent glow
Above the clerk’s head, who sits patiently smoking
A Lucky Strike waiting for you beneath the slow
Whirring of ceiling fans, the paddle-winged
Seraphim humming incessant electric praise.
This all you need? The habitual question turns
Into its own answer as he takes a bill and pays
You back in change. That night you finally stop won’t seem
So important. Forgotten, it will return quick as starfall.
Then you will understand why you stared through windshields
So queerly at the moon like an exit in night wall.