“Recalculating” by C. Wade Bentley

C. Wade Bentley


So Google Maps has me somewhere west of Evanston,
Wyoming, telling me that to get to the gas station where
my daughter and her broken-down Subaru are waiting
for me, I need to go straight for two miles through a quarter-
mile dead-end trailer park. This is the young woman
with whom, some Sunday mornings, I have coffee
and a game of chess as an excuse to get caught up
on her life and the status of her sobriety. It’s not much
of a game. I’m a reactive and distracted player and more
interested in the new medicine she has found in an online
Russian pharmacy than the fact that her horsey has me
in a rook-king fork because I failed to castle while the castling
was good. After asking the tall man in a short kilt
who comes up to my car with barbecue tongs in one hand
how to get to town or at least get back to a paved street
and a street sign with which the GPS has a passing familiarity,
I am heading in a promising direction, once again, a brace
of pronghorns racing me along the fence line. I slow
to let the lesser mammals win, this time, and then come
to a complete stop in the middle of a road that has likely
not seen another car since morning, so no one is there
to wonder at an old man with his head on the steering
wheel, his shoulders jerking now and then, to wonder
whether it’s some sort of a medical condition or whether
years of worry and more recent frustrations with mapping
apps are being siphoned off. It is in fact a release, relief
that she is safe after her mindfulness retreat in the mountains
of Colorado where, as she later tells me on our trip home
along I-80, the words spilling out of her after her week-long
fast so that, for once, I can drink my fill—where an owl sat
all night one night on the sill of the tiny window of her cell-like
room and where she left an offering of fireweed and granola
bars at the Great Stupa shrine on her last morning, along with
a bouquet garni, as she called it, of her addictions, before the hours
of empty miles across Wyoming, before the Check Engine
light began blinking wildly, before she coasted into the Sinclair
station, closed on this Sunday, before she called her dad
with the last of her cell phone battery and sat, meditating,
she said, on the green fiberglass dinosaur, knowing I would come.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019


C. Wade Bentley: “While I remain an incorrigible introvert, poetry has become the language form that works for me when I want to try to say something real to the other humans. It has saved me from a life of atrophy, muteness, and isolation. While I’ve never felt that poetry is up to saving the world, it can sometimes save the poet.” (web)

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