Tonight on Highway Thirteen,
semi-trucks, like fast elevators,
clatter and whine past.
They barrel their frozen track
and lean into every curve.
Ahead of our oncoming car,
four deer, their eyes shining
like inside abalone shells,
hover headlight roadside.
The farmer’s field they’ve crossed,
its season blessed gone and
everything turned, left to dream,
borders a treeline.
Branches like ragged skirts
slowly dance back and forth
to the moon in its rise,
its rhythm with all movement.
Round bright signals become
the shape of each of us.
You and I stop for coffee to go
at the Sundown Cafe which is half
general store. Walking through the
fried chicken and gravy suspended air,
we head straight to the back where
two pots of regular coffee sizzle
on double burners next to a sales rack
of gloves and axes, matches and dish soap.
We wait in line to pay.
In front of us, two quiet hunters,
buying gas. And one guy
in front of them, whose paunch hangs
over his belt, who has a toothpick secured
between thin lips. He slowly thumbs out
ancient ones and some change to pay
for his dinner.
When it’s our turn, the clerk looked
at us crazy, waved us away when we tried
to buy the road coffee.
Later, we stop for beer at the Kro Bar.
A sea green cinder block
building off the highway, its dance floor,
shabby empty, waits for Saturday night
when cars sardine its gravel lot.
The bar is dented, scratched, sticky.
From the postage stamp-sized kitchen,
the cook ambles out, moves
the ketchup to whomever needs it.
Our bartender, whose dragon tattoo
arced above her t-shirt, said
she was paying for its design in tips.
The clicks of a quiet pool game played
by two shadows in the background,
you told me then, for extra money,
you bandsawed signs for the side
of this place during one lean winter
Grill Off-Sale Food Music.
Our car wheels navigate again
this mattress of snowy road
as the full moon draws us closer
on its plane of light.
The same light it lays like hot white
track across iced Lake Superior.
Perhaps this could be our path,
moonlight straight to Cornucopia.
We would dance along like astronauts.
We could, like our friend Lee did,
one frozen, windy day, skid across
Chequamegon Bay, tight in his saucer sled,
kite in hand.
The wind like wild horse, like love,
pulled him along, kite’s red nylon snapping
heartbeat against the sky.