stop at the gas station, grocery store,
water bottles filled, almonds and candycorn
clutched in fists.
Facing north we start to sing - we know
a few Halloween songs,
wagon wheel, the circle game.
Our valley unfolds like a rumpled
bedsheet, the last stands of bright aspen,
cottonwood vibrate gold against the muted brown
of October farmland. We follow the river north.
becomes a force like the highway itself-
as we move through it.
Bruised sky and sudden dash of rain
against the windshield, the car quiets as the girls pull on
headphones, drift off through time and space
in a magic treehouse.
Near Deer Lodge the sky clears again,
sideways light of late afternoon turns semis
into magical beasts, each falling leaf caught
in the draft of traffic into pirates' gold.
I've been traveling these highways
all my life, they are familiar paths
to the places I love. I have a story for
every small town along they way; I know
that my grandmother would order
the grilled cheese at Trixie's Saloon
in Ovando, I know the fishing access where my 7th grade
class stopped for lunch on a field trip,
my wonderful teacher reading us poetry as we sat beside
the Little Blackfoot. I know the empty, rolling stretch
of highway where, at thirteen, my stepdad pulled over
and told me to switch seats with him so I could learn
And I know the destination. A place
stitched into my soul- the smell
of glacial silt and lakewater, the mix
of mist and larch needles, and in October
the sound of geese