Standing in the long line,
burdened by suspicious border patrol agents
and a heavy backpack,
I see Bob’s blue truck.
It looks the same as it did the day
he left Michigan for Oregon,
a place he believed to be hipper,
more appreciative of guitar builders.
Bob’s old truck idled in the vehicle lane,
packed way too high, belongings tied below a tarp.
One strong wind could lift the tarp
and the guitars would soar like helicopters.
I run to Bob’s truck and the agents follow,
breaking up our embrace by demanding Bob empty his truck, and me my pack, all our belongings strewn
on the ground
as if we’re putting on an impromtu yard sale.
Bob believed this chance meeting was a sign from God:
we miracously meet at Canadian border after months
of no communication. Instead of hitchhiking wild and reckless, I’m to sit in his old blue truck,
and we’ll return to Michigan, the land of stability,
proof of God’s plans, and Bob will build guitars and drive a bus, and I’ll teach crazy people,
and he’ll quit smoking, and I’ll settle down.
I grab my pack, return to the line, and slowly walk across the border, while his old truck drives down the highway,
and somehow I know my life will always be like this-
strange crossings at borders, second chances,
backpacks searched for items that will never
be found, maps that will be circled but never
followed, destinations reached, but never attained.
Diane Payne is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas-Monticello.
of Burning Tulips, Freedom’s Just Another Word, and A New Kind of Music. She has been published in hundreds of literary journals.