A few years ago I was driving on I-84, headed home after a poetry workshop, when this happened―twenty poems escaped, flying away like birds. Their departure reminded me of other things I've lost as the years have gone by.
Windows Open on a Summer Day
Driving home from the workshop, poems
in their folder on the back seat, car windows open
at sixty-five miles an hour, suddenly the white sheets
are rising like egrets ready to fly.
In the seconds it takes me to see their surprising
migration—pages streaming through the sun roof,
scattering out the rear windows—I think
of all the other things I’ve lost:
my ninth grade teacher’s name, the tune
of the jump-rope song I knew by heart,
the secret stairways of my childhood home.
My father’s funny dinner jokes escape,
and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner I memorized
when I was ten; from nursing school slip away
the cranial nerves and wrist bones. Then,
what it was my son said once, or my daughter—
the words, the friends, the life I vowed I never
would forget. Heart pounding, I close the windows
too late, catching one poem half in, half out,
all the others gone. I watch this saved poem
billow and settle, captured
as I speed on, ever closer to my exit.