Map Reading

In a beaten down road atlas we mark places to go,
not vacation spots, but new homes,
homes away from this one.

My wife uses red pen and I use blue.
She makes neat circles around town names
and I make wiggly lines around entire states.

These decisions are not entirely our own.
There is a sick father somewhere, and
there are hard feelings and money owed.

During the day my wife works. And I,
too frail from these thoughts in my head,
pop aspirin and stare at the map.

At night we lay on the bed and let
the evening warmth pour in here.
When I dream, I dream of us on that map.

I take giant steps, a hundred miles long,
a foot in Colorado and one in Utah.
At the California border my wife zigs when I zag.

Pfefferle, W.T. “Map Reading,” North American Review 289 (Spring 2004): 29.