Rest Area

Lying on the couch
awake since three
in the nursing home
with my dad
and all the other
saints of survival

I watch his skeletal
frame disappearing
into the pitch
dark bedroom.
Each shuffle step
a psalm of frailty.

Eighty-nine year old
bones still moving.
Still holding him up
in this weighted world.

On the drive home
I feel myself fading.
When I realize
that I can’t remember
the last few minutes
I pull off.

In the rest area
I sleep in the front seat
with the windows down.
The sun and wind flow in
along with the smell
of warm sweet grass.
When I wake
I am lost in the world
for a wonderful moment.

I climb out of the car
and slowly walk the perimeter
of the picnic area.
There are no people.
Just a lone semi
parked by the edge
of a corn field.
A driver named Winkle
may have been sleeping
in its cab for fifty years.

I find a curved hiking path
mowed into the waist high
“restored prairie”.
It’s surrounded by wildflowers
and tall, brown grasses.

Fifty yards out
there is a sculpture.
A boat with no skin,
only broken ribs.
A plaque explains that it is
symbolic of the Viking explorers.
It has been surrounded
with a fence so
no one will touch it
or get too close.

I watch the fall bloom
    asters
        hyssop
            golden rod and more
rocking back and forth
on the moist wind
coming up from the south.

Monarchs go tumbling by
diving again and again
into the wind
fighting their way
across North America
on paper wings.

Off in the distance
the windmill giants are
waving their arms at something
beyond the horizon.

The earth is tilting.

I think of my father.
No longer able to kneel and pray.
He lies on his back in bed
and prays for the world.
He sleeps and prays.

He has fought
the wolves of loneliness.
He was wounded but now
they lie quietly by his side.
He lies quietly by their side.

When I am with him
(and even when I am not)
I feel his grace.
It gives welcome weight
to the ballast that’s needed
in this storm of days.

Back in the wild field
an old fence post holds
a twisted strand of wire.
It sings so softly with the wind
that it can hardly be heard.
It sounds like the ghost
of a drowned woman
calling from far
beneath the water.

I am in love
with these quiet things
that have nothing
to do with survival.
I stand in the field
listening to this sad music
and watch as a long
spine of clouds
slowly bends itself
over the ancient world.

– Kevin Lawler
********************************************
More poetry by Kevin Lawler can be found at Winding Road.

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