Forecast For Interstate 81, early 1960’s

(a final Christmas)

South, U.S. Highway 11 , 1960.
Duff’s Rebel Restaurant,
breakfast in Winchester and supper -
if all goes on schedule - near Pulaski.
Hills to our right -
“…jingle bell, jingle bell,
jingle bell rock,"
wipers click and wipers clock.
Ears to the radio, eyes to the
billboards, a signs calls out
for a diner - “Listen there - if we were
still up in Carlisle, Hagerstown or
Martinsburg we’d be butt-deep in
snow." Pop knows. Here it’s just
cold slop, a little sleet but cold
assaulting rain, mostly. A diner
with dingy motel's light glows ahead.
"Rockin' around the Christmas tree
at the Christmas party hop… ."
Just under an hour from Roanoke,
and countless hours yet left to Bristol;
an hour into an express winter sun
as it quickly sneaks over the hills.
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping - at your nose... ."
Dark hours full of towns,
some with no given names any longer,
some which lost their Christian
names way back in the 1860’s.
Many have no features and most no futures.
Two grown-ups in the front seat
weigh the weather against the advantage of
the imminent Mom & Pop motel by the
diner for the night.
"…I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
with every Christmas card I write… ."
Three kids in the back seat
silently press against the
foggy chilled glass, pointing, checking
the monuments to the new
interstate, arriving in pieces,
blocks silhouetted
raw, black, straight shapes
against a dark, blue-gray
winter sky, riding and rising,
skeletons crossing overhead
and dipping again into the
sidelines, surviving hard pellets
of rain, emerging alive again
to spite and to eventually crush
the spirit and spine of
U.S. Highway 11 , so
next year, she’ ll have a
"…blue - blue, blue Christmas."

2008, P. W. Murray

All Rights Reserved--2007-2024