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  • Writer's pictureRon Tobey

Driving West from White Sulphur Springs with Ralph Waldo Emerson

I drive west from White Sulphur Springs

in my black and bruised 2005 Silverado

model 2500 4x4 Heavy Duty

up 7% grades hauls easily 20,000 pounds with a trailer

62 miles per hour now in late autumn rain

episodic drizzle intermittent deluge

tight squeaks as rubber wipers struggle

whack <scrape> | whack <scrape> | whack <scrape>

against sheets of water on the front windshield

I64 traffic sporadic

diesel 18-wheeler tires fling plumes of spray

splash my truck

| This Appalachian rain forest! | This ocean of wet! |

and coupés flit like deranged gnits on slick asphalt

driving faster than their lights

risk hydroplaning

sun and blue sky are visible only from aircraft flying high

above the roof of dark clouds

sprawl here to Ohio from whence they come

pinned to our mountains by leafless trees

half-way down

set a dense mist upon the ground

limit visibility to 50 yards

immerse us in gray and damp

Out of all that fades

something beneath emerges into focus

as a magnet gathers iron filings in field force lines

a Faraday moment of driving

brusque gravel throat of the Grabber 10 ply tires

inflated to 80psi hard on the road

thud and rattle of the chassis on bumps

and Interstate concrete pavement separation

shum of the AC fan defogging the inside windshield

mild strain on my right ankle

near the accelerator pedal covering the brake

my hands at 4 and 8

motor oil scented warmth

my eyes canvass the dash gauge lights

cab and exterior mirrors

my pleasure sporadically interrupted

by unfelt rushes of adrenaline

as defensively I adjust the truck’s motion

account for the inventory of vehicles moving around me

Now I can’t think

mechanical stresses from the truck’s forward tumult

yank at reason

rip rationality away

from the rusted steel

all that is false and dross

drips off

is lost

in the highway scene

time as in a dream stops

Images of prophesy flood the cab

I am with Ralph Waldo

in his farm home by the bridge

he tugs apart a Chrysanthemum

pulls off pink ray and red disc florets

stigma anther ovary style and filament

passes the denuded flower bulb to me

I gaze into it

is the name of the flower there

no sound no word no motion

I feel nothing

see nothing

smell not perfume of the plant or its moist earth

yet I know without knowing

before massy hard atoms congeal

in their swirling relativity create space and time


has always been there

Ralph Waldo is wrong

it has no name


Ron Tobey grew up in north New Hampshire, USA, and attended the University of New Hampshire, Durham. He farms in West Virginia. He writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. As an imagist poet, he expresses experiences and moods in concrete descriptions in haiku, lyrical poetry storytelling, audio poetry, and in filmic interpretation. Ron has published widely in poetry journals. He was a finalist in Cleaver Magazine 40th Anniversary Flash Fiction Contest. Ron is active on X @Turin54024117


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