Come with me.  I will cocoon you in my air-conditioned,

airbag-equipped American car, and we will glide south

down a divided highway together toward understanding.


Unplug yourself from the jabbering squawk on the street.

Let yourself be lulled on this smooth four-lane, undulant

across the land-swells that surge toward the horizon.


Replenish your soul with the silent expectancy of fallow fields

crazy-quilted together by dense green windbreak-stitching

across swatches of soybean, sorghum, and tasseled corn.


As streamers of black-eyed Susans unfurl along the roadside,

ponder the paradigms that shape your expectations. 

Consider why plump-bellied small-town water towers


perched on spindly daddy-long-legs do not stir in you

the same unease as dish-bristling microwave towers;

why eighteen-wheelers hauling freshly cut timber


summon a vague sadness; why redbrick churches

with white steeples hint you’ve lost something

you’re certain you never had. Notice the boarded-up


video stores, the graveyards of rusted cars,

the gas stations tricked out with security cameras,

but do not fret. Just past the next stoplight


we will turn in at those iconic yellow arches

so you can pacify yourself with a familiar array

of faux-food. Study the teenagers behind the counter—


black, white, brown—working together in harmony,

grateful for minimum-wage jobs. Let yourself wonder

what unemployment rates will be ten years from now.      


As we press on into the afternoon, watch a jet-dot

scrawl a tiny contrail across the sky's cirrus-shimmer.

Forget about the Fed. It does not love you. It never did.


Contemplate who first cleared this loam-rich cotton-land,

and why. Reflect on ownership structures. Feel the weight

of history, heavy as swinging body. No—hush now. Hush.


Patricia L. Hamilton is a professor of English at Union University in Jackson, TN. Her work has recently appeared in The Windhover, Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, Bindweed, and Not Very Quiet.  She won the 2015 Rash Award in Poetry and has received three Pushcart nominations. Her first collection, The Distance to Nightfall, was published in 2014 by Main Street Rag Publishing.