Voices on the Wind
Still Driving Through Kansas
by Mark Vogel
Over and over an endless story retold out past Topeka
in prairie wind, sand, and moving sky just like
in that stupid Kansas song, as six week old kittens
awake, and spill mewing from the depths of back seat blankets,
the last breathing remnants of flickering Denver.
Just me and them rushing east for a long haul,
straight on to the not-so-bright lights of Kansas City.
Eighty miles gone and dark clouds shroud, killing
afternoon light, and a cold revenge wind from
the Rockies rocks the car. Snow spits first
in Goodland, then blows in frightening gray
winter murk, the fat heavy flakes covering the lines.
Wild to get on, a Californian in a Lincoln rushes
from behind, crowding close, then fishtails off the road.
I know then how much I have underestimated—
how lost I am in white with bald tires, lonely
heart racing pale, pulling the car to the side,
lurching onto the plain. With the ignition cut,
the snow blankets the windows, while behind me
tumbling kittens scramble to stay warm.
Behind closed eyes, so soon comes the knock
on the window, an officer checking, then
saying go on, this is no place to stop.
The wry mature humor in the limping
metallic crawl back on the highway,
the instinctual attempt to explain bleak danger
to crying kittens. How moving to outrace
the encroaching threat alters chemistry,
so in thick clogging cold air ten miles on
the radio sings the hated Kansas song loud—
translated wild and free—necessary.