Why are you still seventeen
and drifting like a dog after dark,
dragging a shadow you’ve found?

Put it back where it belongs,
and that bend of river, too. That’s not the road
you want, though you have it to yourself.

Gone are the cars that crawl to town
from the reactors, a parade of insects, metallic,
fuming along the one four-lane street.

The poplars of the shelterbelt lean away
from the bypass that never had much to pass by
but coyote and rabbitbrush.

Pinpricks stabbed in a map too dark to read—
I stared at stars light-years away.
Listen. That hissing? Just a sprinkler

damping down yesterday until it’s today.
The cottonwoods shiver, or I do,
every leaf rustling as if it’s the one

about to tear itself, not I.
Memory takes the graveyard shift.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/141797/west-of-myself