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The Road to Nowhere

for Max Ross


No one knew why he built

a road over a mountain.

It started close to home

and wound through trees, past cliffs

not visited in years,

bound for the sea, but stopped

before it got there, somewhere

halfway down a hill.


They said, why build a road

that goes nowhere?  But

it goes somewhere.  It goes

out to a rocky shelf

that overlooks the steady

unceasing breakers far

below the traveler

who moves while standing still.


Perhaps if it were finishedó

but it will never be

finished.  It runs toward

not to the sea, an arc,

a proposition in

geometry, a brief

infinity of points

along a finite line.


It was for him a mode

of recall, of the son

who loved this place and years

ago in madness or

despair had killed himself.

Walking the road, he saw

what could not be left out

in the many tellings.


It made a kind of solace.

Yielding to rocks and shadows

at the end of order,

he waited for the long

susurrus in the trees

brushing across the land

like half-formed memory

or like the coming rain.


Jan Schreiber



© 2000; originally printed in Pivot.
Reprinted by permission of the author.

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