DRIVING AT NIGHT IN THE PINE BARRENS
The road no longer had lines
or street lights,
just a white wooden house with peeling paint
or a log cabin about every five miles,
then every fifteen,
then they stopped showing at all.
The van's lights could no longer rip
through the thick dark air to lead me.
Stars disappeared from the black sky one by one.
The moon slammed shut.
The road narrowed as the forest closed in,
I shifted from traveling in the black air
to the black dirt without noticing.
Sap wafted in through the side windows of the van;
roots and worms coiled in the dirt.
The dirt was alive.
Moles and millipedes were shaken awake, annoyed
by the van rattling by -—
ants momentarily stopped their construction to stare.
I entered the difficult rock
of the Earth's mantle wondering
if I would turn back before the core,
but I knew I wouldn't --
not until magma spilled in the car windows
blind, red hot, and furious.
Valerie Loveland works as a receptionist at a pet resort in Austin, Texas. To read more of her poems, visit her website: valerieloveland.com.