Poems by Jennifer Raha Newhouse

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Driving Burleigh Road on Christmas Night

by Jennifer Raha Newhouse

From Canary Winter 2015-16

Jennifer lives in southeastern Virginia where three watersheds meet: the James, the Chowan, and the Albermarle Sound, about ten miles northeast of Lake Drummond.

Oh you, my favorite
            stretch of full-bodied land,

unmarred, unscathed—
            just this little windy road,

year after year,
            from car seat to engagement.

It’s not your fault we made you unsafe,
            drove your wild, brush-thriving hills

too fast at night, cut the curbs
            closer than we should have

blinding oncoming traffic.
            Youth sparks anywhere it can,

falls quickly as a live wire.
            Once, driving to school, a cow

stood between turns, your S,
            and I parked, recklessly, and waited

for some old beloved to see
            the creature, stubborn and natural as me

and my wind tousled hair.
            Of course, he was close behind.

Pulled up, breaking furiously. Called.
            This is dangerous, Jenny. Just honk your horn.

Glory, glory. Roads wear thin.
            I wanted you, all of you,

would have stopped every fruitless
            lip gloss and bourbon purchase

for you and your green gold dirt.
            Not this. Tears falling loose

from my eyes—
            unreckonable grief: 

one lone yellow excavator
            on your largest, immovable hill

on Christmas night—
            this silent night.

This holy night.
            This ruin.

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