Thursday, January 27, 2011

Patching the Road

Patching the Road

They needed to patch the road.
Let’s wait until it isn’t winter anymore,
they said. Snow covered the road,
and melted, and fell again on the road.
The cold elbowed its way
into the street, split and pockmarked the asphalt.
They dropped bucketfuls of salt crystals,
a second snow.

They still needed to patch the road.
But once the streets were clear, drivers
flooded the road.
Tires deepened dips in the blacktop,
turned puddled spots into inside-out top hats,
bottoming out into the earth.

When will it slow down, the repair crew wondered.
At nights the crew left behind the tar
and concrete, drove their own cars home
and gazed into kitchen cupboards, fridges.
They sang to their babies. Made ice cubes.
Stared at the people in the television.
One worker dreamed the road lifted
from the ground like an orange peel.
He smiled, eyelids down.

The road had yet to be patched.
But if we do it now, where will everyone
who needs to drive here go?
The Director of Detours was on vacation.
Commutes would be wrecked
by construction right now.

More than ever, they needed to patch the road.
They watched the traffic hungrily
for signs of it slowing.


  1. I love this, maybe because I lived in it...I love to meet the Director of Detours, and I never thought of making ice. I feel this way all the time, this needs to be fixed but one thing has to end before the other starts and when the other wants to start a lot of other things happen....wishing you a lovely Thursday Hannah! xx

  2. I'm about to move to an isolated place with one road that had been reduced to a lane and a half because the edges had crumbled away, and was pocked with potholes you could lose a truck in. They finally paved it in short patches, over the past two years, fully aware that it would be in the same condition as it has always been, a year from now. They just stop the traffic on half of the road and stand there with a sign and a flag while the traffic from one directions crawls along, half on the verge, and then they switch sides. No director of detours because there's nowhere to detour to. Thanks for the opportunity to eavesfrop on the deliberations in the county hall.

  3. It's been years since we've lived in the true winter, but it's not hard to remember. I always thought of the expression "pouring salt on the wound" when rock salt was placed onto already gash-filled highways. The idea of people making ice cubes also made me crack a smile.

  4. Wonderful metaphor and a perfect poem for today's dig-out.

    Favorite lines: "salt crystals,/ a second snow", "puddled spots into inside-out top hats", "the road lifted/from the ground like an orange peel", and that great "wrecked /by construction".

  5. Your poem may explain why our street still needs patching after several years of neglect. I love the Director of Detours.

  6. Waiting for the right time means a long wait sometimes, doesn't it?

    I loved the 'second snow'.


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