Rest Stop
Past grassy dunes, past Blackfish Creek, the Donut Shack, the boarded-up basket
and beach-toy shops. Past the nurseries, their young shrubs still wrapped in burlap.

Sunday morning, a crisp spring light and hard-edged shadows, here at this nowhere
place along the route from Provincetown back to Boston where I stop to stretch 

my hamstrings: left heel, then right heel, propped on the car’s humming hood. 
Good Will dumpster, painted barrels, an old semi parked askew, empty, 

running its motor, its driver pissing somewhere in the scrub pines. And a battered 
blue van like the one my friend pulled into a rest area somewhere in Connecticut 

last month, and died. Scarred picnic tables, benches attached. Crows. Birch trees. 
Fat green plastic bags stuffed with trash and tossed. One foot, then the other…. 

He’d been elated, he was newly in love and must have felt suddenly drained, 
or felt vast unbearable pain. He was a quiet man, would trouble no one—

and, who could or would have helped him anyway? Is that what he thought—
Who could help me?—when he pulled quickly the green van off the road where 

the state troopers would have found it filled with his silence? Outside, 
the loud whoosh of life, of traffic, the rancorous crows’ cries. Did my friend 

shudder with the awful knowledge before his too-young heart stopped? 
Today, here, I touch my toes, not easily but I do, today I fear what happens 

to the body happens to the spirit too. Spirals of piss on dry leaves, on early poison 
ivy, then the guy zips, lumbers from the wild margin back to the tarmac, 

to his warm truck, and is gone. A gray car, one door a discordant yellow, 
careens to the open Goodwill dumpster, its driver heaves her bags 

of worn-out clothes at its open maw. The crows caw and rant bitterly,
bitter insistence on life. Be not thine own worm, George Herbert says, 

and I tell myself, Summer’s coming, with sweet corn and tomatoes, 
with morning swims and evening walks, then fall’s brief blaze, then icy storms. 

Another year will pass, and then another—Where there are no seasons, 
no commotions, how does anyone know to move through grief?
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