Street names or destinations
didn’t matter to mom.
Each trip was an adventure.
She failed to note her surroundings,
ignored dead ends,
speed limits, empty gas tanks,
was amnesiac when it came
to geographic landmarks, roadside details.
I spent a stressed childhood
witnessing frantic toll calls
seeking better directions
which she ignored.
Once at a restaurant,
she used the restroom
while dad and I returned to the car.
Fifteen minutes later,
my cell phone rang.
In a panic, she had used
a different exit,
couldn’t find the parking lot,
thought we’d left her behind.
Anytime I want to get rid of your mother,
my father drawled,
I’d just spin her around
for three revolutions
and let her go.
She’d wander for eternity,
never find her way home.
The thought made him smile.
Return of the Native
For two hours, you dodge motor homes, lumber along
Interstate 5, follow the Delta Mendota Canal
from Santa Nella to Westley, eventually Tracy.
Concrete canals carry Central Valley water south
to fill swimming pools and irrigate golf courses
in warm L.A. County. You descend into tule fog,
urban sprawl, perpetual traffic.
You drive east, past acres of dormant orchards.
Naked trees splay against skies the hue of amnesia.
You see a banner dangling from brown eaves
of a Manteca tract house. It announces,
“If you lived here, you would be home now.”
You imagine the antidepressants required
to reside in a place that, for months, reveals no sign of sunlight.
Union Pacific railroad tracks separate an ancient feed store
from the newer blight of a Subway and Save Mart.
Service stations and fundamentalist churches abound,
while Main Street progressively fades.
This is your monthly pilgrimage back to the land of Fox News,
John Birch Society, your dysfunctional childhood.