Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

"Highway 64, Between Beech Grove and Wartrace"

Kory Wells is breaking out of her career as a software developer with her first poetry collection, Heaven Was the Moon. Her novel-in-progress was a finalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition, and Ladies’ Home Journal praised her “standout” essay in the anthology She’s Such a Geek. Wells and her family, long-time residents of Murfreesboro, are renovating a house in Bell Buckle.

Highway 64, Between Beech Grove and Wartrace

We’ve driven down this road too many times.
Pull over, and let’s get this
over with so we can move on.

I’ll dig in the glove box
for some napkins pilfered
from Dairy Queen last summer.

You rummage in the trunk’s tool chest
for a cheap pair of pliers.
Come around to my side

and I’ll willingly offer my mouth
without so much a promise
of Novocaine or laughing gas

or even a chalky generic Motrin
filtered from the lint
at the bottom of my purse.

It won’t be easy. My teeth are strong,
my gums healthy, but I trust you
to clamp down the metal ridges and

pull with every frustration
and disappointment
life and I have ever presented you.

I will holler, no doubt,
but don’t quit. Take both of them.
My gift to the cause.

When we’re done, I’ll press
napkins into the bloody emptiness
and dry my tears while you

stand behind the car,
take a few shaky breaths,
rid yourself of that ferrous smell.

Then we’ll drive on, price paid
for that perfect patch of verdant land,
for that little fixer-upper

with the porch and the pristine view
of burgeoning stream and flash
of doe tail and dogwood,

for that new life
in the elusive country
I’ve always wanted with you.