Certain elements of isolation
were built into the design, given
the odds. This is made plain in the line

of cars in their evening
bed ruffle of exhaust idling
in the Rally’s drive-through,

whose trademarked slogan is You Gotta Eat, as if,
if so, you might as well eat this, each bagged aspect
masked with yellow paper. The mind looks up

to the body. It has its aspirations, fashions
its own barriers. Barbed wire and fence posts
out past the last fringe of gas stations

and fast food. The snowy acreage
of choice whittling on all sides, a white pat
of margarine on the griddle. Happiness

is an inside job, read not a therapist’s waiting-room
decal but the marquee of a sparse motel
in which the occupants were stowed

like tablets in a half-empty blister pack.
The mind’s inheritance is everything
the body lets in. Something to drape

over its shoulders, moldering fur coat
or faux pearls. Deep in the dress-up it’s difficult
to pinpoint when the inside began

to resemble the outside.
Wasn’t once the country’s soft carpet
rolling out in all directions? Now, a hall,

both walls pocked with shut doors, save one
at the end, smudged glass a weird mirror. Motel
in a small town I drove from at nightfall, towing

my disposition, which mimicked the picked-through
landscape visible from the interstate,
area so featureless and vast no distance

seemed to close. So be it. The one route
drawn through the odd topography
of the year, each graffitied silo

and shotgunned road sign might be decoded
to mean that if you must, you might
as well live this way, here.

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