Wanda Waldera © 2014 All Rights Reserved
Impossible to get lost on the long, straight roads in/around/through Detroit, yet we tried,
teenagers brash with stubborn loneliness, even in cars packed tight. From Six Mile Road
out to—where did they stop?—32, 38 Mile Road? Each a mile apart, and the crossroads,
Ryan, Dequindre, Mound, Van Dyke, all a mile apart. Driving those streets, like playing
Dots and Boxes, connecting dots till whoever forms a box writes their initial inside.
Inevitably, we traced boxes, driving our cranky, rusty beasts, turning right, turning left.
We always knew where we were, and that all of the boxes were ours and none of them
were, and so we could not write any initials—if we plunged down a side street, it was like
holding our heads under water. In less than a mile or minute, we’d surface and know our
So the freeways drew us in, I-75, I-94, I-96, I-696—like rivers, flowing and
twisting over street grids, rivers fast and rivers dangerous, roaring with the rapids of our
engines—whoosh/whoosh/whoosh—past each other, making wind in the night under the
silent glow of the fixed stars lining pavement. And some reckless nights, we could end up
on a bridge or in a tunnel and arrive in Canada to answer questions about who we were,
and where we were going.
Jim Daniels’ new book of poems, Birth Marks, was published by BOA Editions in 2013. His next book of short fiction, Eight Mile High, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2014. A native of Detroit, Daniels teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
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