National Poetry Month–Legler Memorial Award, 1997
from The Long Haul
I’m bored with the 29 days in February
I want to tell the bus driver about watermelons
trucked from Texas and sold at a farm outside the village,
how I miss the blue of Cathead Bay,
that I’m riding the bus because
I fear running out of toilet paper, and
there’s a sale on Kleenex Double Roll at Wal-Mart.
I start to tell the bus driver
August in Northport
meant spiked watermelon at beach parties
and losing virginity in the sand,
but I fade-off before finishing and
watch the jackpine and bare tamaracks flash by.
The airbase is a ghost town;
soon couples will pick blueberries
and caress each other with stained fingers
I fear dependence
and public transportation,
and the young man in the back of the bus
who tells about his toilet habits,
how he once shit in the wastebasket
’cause every time the toilet overflowed
his dad strapped him.
I imagine purple welts
and his dog licking his face, but
my discomfort keeps my eyes on the bus driver’s back.
My husband has gone off to trucking school.
To stay warm on long hauls
he’ll wear his company coat.
I’ll curl up with the labs,
wait, take a mental count
of how many rolls of toilet paper remain in the cupboard,
and watch the ice break up on the Escanaba River.
I’ll write poems of love and loss
to read in August when
my mate brings home a truckload of exotic fruits.
Fruits, to suck on the sand shore
beside brown water,
where leeches hide and wood ticks
fall from the trees.
~poem copyright Kim Nixon
Winner of the Philip M. Legler Memorial Award 1997 at NMU.
First published in The Thaw: A Student Journal of Literature,
Vol 1 Issue I.
The Long Haul is a collection of poetry that you will not find in chapbook form (yet). The voice is the reflections of a wife during the first years of her husband’s search for employment in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and his choice to eventually become a over-the-road truck driver. The work is by Kim Nixon and is highly autobiographical and feels like a lifetime away now.
Posted on April 16, 2009, in National Poetry Month, The Long Haul and Other Poems and tagged Legler Memorial Award, Michigan Writers, poetry by Kim Nixon, poetry from the Long Haul, upper peninsula writers, writers with a sense of place. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.