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The Road

—Jim Burns

The Road

I took up this road,

not by my choosing,

you understand,

down by the sawmill

where the river makes its turn,

far back in the time

that would someday become dreams,

and I followed it

without thinking

as it climbed lazily toward peaks

obscured by clouds,

negotiated switchbacks,

then turned and retreated

toward valleys

that when approached closely

were yellowed and arid and brittle,

and turned again to find the river

to hitch a ride

to catch its breath,

and now I can just make out

the end in the distance,

and I want off

to scramble back through

the thickets from which I’d come,

pick up another road

and travel it my way,

but on that road there is a toll

and I have no coins,

so I will follow others’ dusty footsteps

in this road until it ends.


JIM BURNS was born and raised in rural Indiana. He received degrees from both Indiana State University and Indiana University, then spent most of his professional life working as a librarian. A few years after his retirement, in an effort to keep his mind reasonably sharp, he returned to writing poetry, with which he had dabbled decades earlier, and is now happily obsessed with transmitting thoughts to paper in as pleasing a manner as possible.

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