Thursday, March 10, 2011

Driving Montana, Alone ...

Here's a poem that received some national radio airplay recently, "Driving Montana, Alone" by Katie Phillips. The author is another one of those expatriate Montanans, now trapped way out in Illinois. Anyone who's driven along the Pintlars will likely relate to the images the poem conjures.
I smile at the stack of Bob Dylan CDs
you are not holding in the passenger seat.
Storm clouds have gathered. My "Wow" rises
over the harmonica for your benefit,
but you cannot see that one sunlit peak

in the midst of threatening sky. The road turns
wet at the "Welcome to Anaconda" sign,
and I pat my raincoat, loosely folded
where your lap should be. "Anaconda was almost
the state capital," I say, but that's all I know,

and you don't ask for more. You wouldn't mind
my singing and swerving onto the shoulder
for more snapshots over the car door.
And it's only when I get just south of Philipsburg
that your not being here feels like absence.

I want you to see these dark rotting barns,
roadkill of Highway One. It seems only you
could know why my eyes fill the road
with tears again when a flock of swallows
swoops through an open barn door
and rushes out the gaping roof.


  1. Wow...Great poem. If we are where we are from--or where we choose to be--then we want those people in our lives to know us by our places. I am from Montana. In a way I am Montana. It's in my blood and always will be, no matter that I live somewhere else. Maybe we have to leave our places to find them again...undiscovered country.

  2. Yep, it's a very evocative piece.

    And I absolutely agree with what you say about people having a sense of place -- needing to have one, really. Montana definitely holds that most-important spot in my spirit, and probably always will.

  3. That's really beautiful, and sad, and I've been there.

  4. As have we all, I suppose ...