The Way Back Home

by Michael Gillan Maxwell

500 miles

all the way from Omaha

nine hours

on the back of a flatbed truck

buffeted by hot wind 

that thrashed our bodies 

tied our hair into knots 

sucked the air 

right out of our lungs & 

ripped the voices

from our lips

we rolled on past fields 

of wheat and corn 

soy and hay

the endless midwest landscape

swallowed up by prairie and sky 

a spool unreeling, a banner unfurling

time and space unwinding

we played chess 

on a tiny magnetic board

until you called checkmate

about six hours out

somewhere just past 

Des Moines