The theme for #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘At the Station.’ Regular readers of Sojourning Smith will be familiar with my distaste for airport departure lounges. I have taken trains and buses a fair amount over a lifetime, and become infatuated with ferry terminals at times. There were vivid memories of getting trapped in an Amtrak bathroom before the train had even set off for my transcontinental trek back in 1978. (I did eventually release myself.) But in the end the title demanded its hearing, as did the journey remembered from early childhood. I may get back to stations at some later date though.
" Are we there yet?"
We clop lopped over concrete slabs
of the northeastern extension
of the PA turnpike.
We were a long way
from there yet.
So we made up games,
listing each new state's
car license plate.
I learned how to rhyme
in a Studebaker backseat,
defeated by orange.
Determined to make
a new word up.
Pitstop Neshaminny Howard Johnson's.
Prepare to hold your nose in Bristol
going past rotten egg Rohm & Haas.
Cross the Delaware River
to Grandmother's house we go.
View the ships in bottles,
great-uncle corraling clippers
in glass. But we're not there yet.
Pass the Chinese supermarket
in Brown's Mills before skirting
forlorn Pine Barrens
more Brother's Grimm
"Are we there yet?"
said somewhere near Lakewood
when nose began to sniff and give
a feral quiver, an atavistic
sense of subtle shifts
in ozone, air recalibrating.
Then the definite tang of salt,
rotting seaweed, crossing
Barnegat Bay's old metal bridge
rattling over onto the barrier island's sandy spit.
Roll down Ocean Avenue,
hang a left at the Catholic Church.
Stop, pile out of station wagon
to peels of aunt's laughter
as it goes up and down the scale,
our cousins' clammer.
Later, after a noisier than usual dinner
we go down to the street
to see the Atlantic Ocean.
Walking the beach, getting feet wet,
we face the edge of earth
to look out at the mystery.
We are not nearly there yet.
Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Featured image of ‘Old Barney’ from sandcastlelbi.com