Seeing What's Behind You Later

Sometimes you choose a road that’s near
the road you’re on, a road off to the left,
or maybe the right, not even a turning,
a crossroad, that’s it, a crossroad.

If you’re walking, you don’t stand there
wondering. If you’re driving, you don’t
check a map and idle the car, fumes graying
the air. You just take that other road.
You don’t even have time to work out
the obscure joke about meeting yourself
two days later at the same crossroads.
There are no crows telling you secrets,
no warning gallows—that time is past—
not even the customary crossroads table
spread with fruit and bread to celebrate
the harvest, should it be that time of year.
All those things come later. You will look
back at the road and say, It was a crossroad . . .
and, Wasn’t there a bird calling? Was I hungry
then? Did I know the way? But now you
don’t say any of those things. You just go.
It’s a road, you take it, as you would
brush your hair before stepping out, or
eat an apple for breakfast. There go
your feet, the wheels of the car,
taking you where you are going to go.

Keep going. Don’t worry. When from
farther down the road you look back, you
will see the hieroglyphs you missed
the first time, the petroglyphs of those
who have come before. You will see
there is an alphabet, and you will learn
that new language, the one in which
you will ask the questions. You are
learning the language of your past.
It's a table spread with fruit and bread.
You eat. Now you can say, My feet
moved under the bird's song. I
was hungry, and I knew the way.

Published in Poiesis, A Journal of the Arts & Communication