Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Nature, and Politics

Stephen Dobyns: Stars

The man took the wrong fork in the road.

It was out in the country. They saw

no signs. It was getting dark. They began

to blame each other. Should they keep

 

going straight or should they turn around?

They drove past farms without lights.

The man said, If we reach a crossroad,

we can just turn right. His wife said,

 

I think you should turn around. The man

was driving. They kept going straight.

There’s got to be a road up here someplace,

he said. His wife didn’t answer. By now

 

it was pitch black. In their lights, the trees,

pressing close to the road, looked like people

wanting to speak, but thinking better of it.

The farther they drove, the farther they got

 

from one another, until it seemed they sat

in two separate cars. Who’s this person

next to me? This thought came to them both.

They weren’t newlyweds. They had children.

 

He’s trying to upset me, thought the woman.

She thinks she always knows best, thought

the man. They were on their way to dinner

at a friend’s farmhouse in the country. Now

 

they’d be late. It would take longer to go back

than to go straight, said the man. The woman

knew he hated it when she remained silent

so she said nothing. The woods were so thick

 

one could walk for miles and never get out.

The stars looked huge, as if they had come down

closer in the dark. The woman wanted to say

she could see no familiar constellations,

 

but she said nothing. The man wanted to say,

Get out of the car! Just to make her speak!

Where had they come to? They had driven

out of one world into another. They began

 

to recall remarks each had made in the past.

Only now did they realize their meanings,

hear their half-hidden barbs. They recalled

missing objects: a favorite vase, a picture

 

of his mother. How foolish to think they had

only been misplaced. They recalled remarks

made by friends before the wedding, remarks

that now seemed like warnings. Ice crystals

 

formed between them, a cold so deep that only

an ice axe could shatter it. Who is this monster

I married? They both thought this. Soon they’d

think of lawyers and who would get the kids.

 

Then, through the trees, they saw a brightly lit house.

They had come the long way around. The man

parked behind the other cars and opened the door

for his wife. She took his arm as they walked

 

to the steps. They heard laughter. Their friends

were just sitting down at the table. On the porch

the man told his wife how good she looked,

while she fixed his tie. Both had a memory

 

of ugliness, like a story told them by somebody

they had never liked. As he opened the door,

she glanced upward and held him for a second.

How beautiful the stars look tonight, she said.


 

Copyright 2016 Stephen Dobyns. Published in The Day’s Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper BeachBOA Editions, Ltd. Also published in The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Third Edition. Originally appeared in Normal School. Republished in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

One comment on “Stephen Dobyns: Stars

  1. anisioluiz2008
    July 16, 2017

    Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    Like

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This entry was posted on July 16, 2017 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , .
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