for Nicholas Battye
My brother wasn’t built to last.
Not everyone is.
What is left on the trees is brown
or yellow. The vast interstate is clogged with commuters.
The sun now up, our shadows are leading us to Scranton.
Scranton! My mythical America!
Well, we make what we can of the stories
childhood left us.
So the road, the bus,
the woods, lawns, shingle New Jersey houses
and cemeteries. While through my inbox
flicker emails guessing next of kin
and wondering how to bury you.
In God’s own country,
republic of the king-sized,
it’s hard to grasp that nothing we do
will ever again make any difference to you.
A huge lake hemmed by woods,
a faded resort hotel.
The water lies unmoved.
White churches peep among the winter hills.
It’s all a joke, a postcard, a movie of the road
rolling away beneath us.
You thought you would meet God
here, or on another road.
The driver stamps his feet in the cold
like a horse, puts out his cigarette
and rolls his bulk back on the bus.
Truck tires are ten percent off.
Look — another auto repair shop.