Friday, October 7, 2011

where two highways cross

where two highways cross,
at the base of a lamppost,
a small pile of stones
and a tiny cardboard sign --
who reads the message?

At the southwest corner of the town square, Highway 1 and Highway 34 cross each other's path. In our small town this busy intersection is called Main Street and Burlington Avenue. It's a hot autumn afternoon and the sun is casting black shadows in bars across the sidewalks and streets. I am on foot, not in a hurry to get anywhere, just walking slowly, looking casually. After I cross Main Street, I notice a small pile of gray stones at the base of a silver lamppost. It looks like a miniature chorten, like the big ones placed at the top of each pass in the Himalayas, or like the little path markers we learned to make in Scouts, pointing the direction at the junction of two paths. The pointy rock on top is shaped like an ant's head or a knight's helmet. The rock creature looks like it's holding a bit of greenery growing up out of a crack in the concrete pavement. It seems to be guarding a small hand-printed placard leaning against the lamppost. I have to lean over to read it. It says: "If you can fit between here without knocking over the tower you can legitimately say that you're stuck between a rock and a hard place . . . otherwise quit your bitchin'." I laugh and then squat down and carefully stick my hand between the sign and the tower.

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