Sunday afternoon, road out of Sycamore.
“A short-cut,” Dad says, just miles of blacktop
dissecting cornfields, saucer-eyed cows giving us
the once-over. Rickey and I locked in the back seat
for hours, straight from a boring visit with
Uncle Seymour who sells cheap print dresses
and smells of cigars. Our fingers draw pouty mouths,
flying ringlets, tic-tac-toe grids on the frosty windows.
“Stop that.” Mom whips her arm from the front seat
and misses. Rickey grabs his throat. “I’m gonna
throw up if we don’t stop soon.” Then we spot them,
the signs at the side of the road:
Cattle Crossing / Means Go Slow / That Old Bull /
Is Some Cow’s Beau / Burma Shave
Suddenly we’re on an adventure, one set of signs means
another ahead. Sure enough, but in the opposite direction.
We crane our necks.
Burma Shave / I’ll Cook The Rice / The Wedding’s Off /
And Said, No Dice / She Eyed His Beard
We can’t be stopped. Pat’s Bristles–bouncing-Scratched
-faster and faster-Bridget’s Nose-giggling–That’s When
–ducking–Her Wild Irish Rose–until Burma Shave hours
become whispers and it’s dark when we get home.
This poem first appeared in U.S.1 Worksheets, 2003.
Used here with the author's permission.