“CENTRAL MONTANA”

I wear headphones
although
I listen to nothing.
Looking at my GPS,
I must look lost.

That's not to say
I don't know
where I am, though.

I DO!

I'm in the middle of Montana;
directly south of the
Alberta-Saskatchewan border.
Slowly, the blue arrow drifts
left; West. The wrong way
from the way I came from
a year ago. I exited Seattle.
Why am I going backwards
from where I came from?
This doesn't make sense;
even to me
and I bought the ticket.

Nothing plays in my ears.
The little new music I have
is not with me
and I refuse to listen
to music that reminds me
of old times. Yet here I am
and here I go; to my old
life, sans so many friends.

The girl across the aisle
is peeling an orange.
I once wrote a poem
about an orange peeler
on a bus in Seattle.
Now, I feel compelled
to do the same, now.
I look over at her hands.
Tiny flecks of white
citrus leap into the air;
some of the same
that arrive to my nose.
I don't want her
noticing my noticing.
I don't want a bite
of her orange
and I don't want her
to think
I do want a taste
of what she has;
what she could offer
me if she sensed
I wanted a piece
of what she has.
No, I don't want her
orange.
I do want her
to keep peeling,
though.
I want to smell
that orange all night
until I'm de-boarding
in Seattle;
The same station I departed
one year ago
when I had no terminus.
One year ago,
when I had no clue
the train I boarded
would be detoured
from my destination.
One year ago,
when I could not have
known
my reason to go East
across Canada
would be dead
before ever reaching
Halifax.

I wear headphones
although
I listen to nothing.
Looking at my GPS,
I don't know
where I am going
next
any better than I did
last time I left
East from the West.

The orange peeler
stopped peeling
and now she's
talking about prom
on her cell phone.
I never went to
prom. I never cared.
I still don't.
All the same,
I wish she'd shut up.
Go back to peeling
oranges.
Go back to peeling
grapes.
Go back to peeling
anything besides
shabby memories.
Ladies first.

Maybe I'll start listening
to some old tunes
just to drown out everyone
else
that is talking
about themselves;
discussing where they are
coming from
and where they are going.
None of them
know
what they don't
know, yet, though.
None of them
know
when a train is going
to derail.

We're four hours behind
schedule, by the way.
The smokers are nervous.

And I like who I am,
by the way.
A whole lot more
today than I did
a year ago.
For what it's worth,
I like my life more;
even if I've had to
make adjustments
for ones who are
gone
and never coming
back, like I am.

And maybe that is
why I am
where I am;
because I can
go back.
Because making
peace with the
living is even
more important
than the dead.
Because doing
what you can
while you can
is something
I couldn't do
when I lived
where I am
going.

And maybe that is
why I wrote this
poem. Why I write
any poem or any-
thing. Because
it's all I have
to help me
understand
why I am
where I am.

Looking at my GPS,
there is an error
finding my location
but at least I know
what direction I am
heading
as the sun dips down
beneath
the flat plains
of
central Montana.

narrative poem written on 05-25-2014 by: on mattkane.com
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