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“Sleeping Over on Highway 78”

Book Excerpt: My Back Pages: The Teresa Poems

Sleeping Over on Highway 78

for Richard Wooten

Thirty miles to the small town of Red Banks,
The phosphor-lit dial of your Opel Kadett’s
Dashboard clock ticking out ten after ten,
A light rain intermittently stippling
The windshield with petti-tricolor drops
Smudged the next instant by the wipers’
Metronomic sway and rock, our
Antenna homing on Brenton Wood’s
“Gimme Little Sign”; stars wandering
In a cirrus mist, we listen for the cricket
Scrabble in live bait shops, gold neon Jax
Blinking in the windows of darkened roadhouses
All along kudzu-hung Old Highway 78.
You brake hard, Rick, on the slow grade below
The trailer of red corrugated tin; the little
Dome-light tricks on when both doors
Swing wide, and we can hear the chert
Cracking under our boot-heels striding up
The wet gravel drive. Your mother, already
In her housecoat, rises from a wicker-backed
Kitchen chair, fetching out of the Frigidaire
Frosted glass goblets brimming apple cider.
Before heading for the paneled bedroom
We spin a Jr. Walker side, then turn in,
Each dreaming about her blue eyes,
Autumn rain pelting us to who-knows-where.

Copyright © 2022 by Floyd Collins. Excerpted from My Back Pages: The Teresa Poems. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Floyd Collins is a graduate of the University of Memphis and earned his M.F.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas. His poetry and critical prose appear regularly in The Georgia Review, Arkansas Review, Gettysburg Review, and Kenyon Review.

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