By the Side of the Road

By the Side of the Road
The small and quiet road
back then
a long time ago
Tree-lined, I imagine it,
rail fences running along either side
fields spread out beyond.
Now the road is
four lanes strong of boisterous traffic
has eaten up most of the front yard
of the old house

built when the road was small and quiet
and maybe
Now this house has a porch
only a couple of car lengths away
from asphalt and is
body-stained and grimy-faced
from years of car exhaust
sitting slumped and gray
its porch sagging
over the old man

sunk in a flimsy chair next to the door
collapsed in on himself
like a sack of sand with a head
two legs bent sharp at the knee
hands clasped on his stomach
open-mouthed and breathing in the fumes
of a thousand cars an hour
and why
anyone would
other than
nothing else to do
I don’t know.

In our car
part of the swarm seething on the road
we have passed the house
the old man
and are gone
before I have time to
take another breath
after the one in which I saw them
fixed and set
We continue on
and yet
I still turn my head
I have intruded.


5 thoughts on “By the Side of the Road

  1. I have frequently seen such houses that were clearly once isolated, often on farmland, and concrete and tarmac and high rises and strip malls have grown up around them. It is a rather sad glimpse of what used to be and how quickly change occurs.

  2. Yes, the house for this poem was in a short row along a busy road that I know was ( and maybe not that long ago) out in the country, a peaceful crossroads kind of thing. Now caught by all the changes, and nowhere to go, and it bothered me.

  3. There are so many of these houses in rural areas where they have built highways. People with no place else to go I think.

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