“The Turnpike” by Daniel Tobin

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Notice the epigraph from Donne’s “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning.”

“The Turnpike” By Daniel Tobin

…an expansion,

Like gold to airy thinness beat…

You away, and me on the Peter Pan
heading home from my own required remove,
I’m drawn by the window’s broad reflection,
the traffic passing along it like a nerve—

an endless charge of cars inside the pane:
the voltage of the real; though as they go
sliding down its long, ethereal sheen
where the solid world softens into flow

they take on the ghostly substance of a dream
or, rather, what we picture dreams to be
since when we’re in them they are what we seem,
and cause us joy or pain as vividly

as the lives we think we live between the lines
that imprint us and we pass between.
Here, the world inverts.  Shades materialize
and cars speeding left expand a breach

that transports into doubles on the right,
and those in transit opposite condense
their mirror selves in a second teeming flight
as if our lightship bus could break such bonds

and matter shatter. Like all things physical
it’s a conjure of parts and energies,
a neverland of haunts inside the skull,
though saying so won’t prevent this child’s cries

from jolting with their needful disturbance,
or the aging woman across the aisle
from leaning in her slackened, palpable face—
comically, mildly—till the infant calms.

If, as scientists say, we are like hurled stones,
as bounded and bound, dear, by material,
and that our minds resolve into a mist
we thinly feel to be the actual,

then who’s to say the rock is not the air
it hurtles through, observed from deeper in,
not above. So you and I circuit there,
firing the inexhaustible engine.

 

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