Route 202


Somehow we are always back

on it, though always

it appears to be going a different way­—

here, east west; there, north south;

anyway the wrong way­—


and there is nothing much to see,

mainly the scrawny late-growth woods

that famously cover up the abandoned farmsteads

and well-forgotten setbacks of

earlier passersby, our ancestors, or we halt


at the granite crown of a hill

as worn down as an old tooth

affording a glimpse of another road

(it must be the very one we want,

the one that goes to the place where we are going,


if only­—if only!­—we could get there, we laugh)

and the gas station nestled in the valley below.

Old potholed manufacturing towns,

weed trees, sagging row houses, Irish bars:

it is all very familiar


and everywhere much the same

here on the road through history to where

history ran out

with us alone on it, it appears, and though we are

quite lost we admit now, we are barreling along


happily enough in silence when again

that sign crops up, Route 202, the same,

my mind wandering as it does to wonder

at the two identical twos facing each other

across the empty space of the zero, just like


a mirror, I think. And oh yes, it is our road after all.


       ­—for Jill

Edwin Frank is editor of the NYRB Classics series and author of Snake Train: Poems 1984-2013.

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