Winter Road by Alyssa Jewell

I’ve been controlling my dreams again:
the kind where unnamed flowers grow
from the earth like shards of glass, but I can change

the colors of their brittle stems, the jagged blooms,
and so too, the night. Casting out the dark
is easy when the heaviness of not creating life

or art or anything brilliant and lasting subsides,
and in that faint lie, you are alone with the blinking lights
presiding over the oil fields in Texas– the highway so cold

and unexpectedly lush in the black that you hold it
underneath your eyelids to watch the bright dead circles burn.
And sometimes all that you’ve pushed aside: your guilt

for learning to sit still in the quiet without
will come back loudly to you, perhaps in sleep, perhaps
over a sour cup of 5 AM coffee where the colossal weight

of absent twilight barks in the middle of the forehead
and then in a muddled beating inside the lower belly.
I drove through so many states last winter. I was cutting

through motionlessness. I was driving forever.
I was driving to a funeral on the shortest day of the year
and felt like something was coming for me all along

the Ohio flatlands– a deer maybe, reaching one
hoof into the road– just enough to suggest a terrible bounding
might not be far off from within the low marshes,

the starlit expanses, the wind turbines churning
on the border of Indiana flashing their menacing rhythms
in unison– a set pattern, a country rave. How I hated

their alignment as I hate the shape of honeycombs
and parallel lines: their unending, measured nature unnerving
me like an open casket where daughters drape their living

bodies as coats over the unexpected emptiness
of a too full box that surely cannot contain a lifetime
or lifetimes in worlds to come. Those numberless beginnings

will flash on skylines I cannot process– the horizons too straight
and lit with better efficiency by the imaginations of people improving
the quality of some future dusk– people who are not my children

nor my children’s children. Before a car accident paralyzed
my great-great-grandmother, she listened intently
to her fortune read in tea cups: it is a good morning to leave

the house– watched all her days drifting down in the steam.



Alyssa Jewell is an assistant editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and coordinates the Poets in Print reading series for the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Lake Effect, North American Review, Quarterly West, and Sugar House Review, among other publications. She lives and teaches in Grand Rapids, Michigan.