You want to know why I balk
At west Texas; at working the rigs
There another summer?
You ever been stranded
On the white shoulder
Of a little highway, of a little town,
And chatted with the boys
Who’ve driven out from their cruising
To discover where you’re going?
You ever spent the night
Rolled in the wet grass below
And slept late because of the silence?
You forget to think
With the itch to go
And you take a ride
With a red-bearded rancher
Who’s turning off in five miles.
The beer he offered for breakfast
Makes you steam like the dew rising
Before the sun.
Across the high dry concrete
And the dust settling after,
There was a brook running so
Shallow and clear, it was ice in the sand.
The water falling from your fingers
Could be her cold tresses in the shower;
The smooth sand, her hip beneath the sheet.
But there was no need to recall her,
I could soothe my throbbing scalp
And fill my canteen
In the frozen moment
Where a breeze might seem like a wild desire
Only dreamt of.
You’ve never waited all day
For the good ride,
And when it finally comes
(A moving van, pushing ninety,
Through the rolling hills at dusk)
You’ve not been made to explain
To the driver, younger than yourself,
Why you’ve left her.
It couldn’t be the beer every evening,
The long crying spells,
Or that your friends wouldn’t come around
But what could you say to a stranger?
One that tells you, you’re wrong?
You could get out at the next stop.
Wish to go back to where the water runs
Like ice in your veins,
For now you’ve recalled her
And you must bow your head
And hold out a thumb to get away from there.