On the Way to Champaign

Naomi Thiers

In a dazzle-red Honda, windows open to hot blue,
thrumming down Rt. 30 through Indiana, two women
in stone-washed jeans, wind whitecapping our perms.
Fleeing muggy DC, our group house with no A.C.,
west, whipping through green to my brother’s place.
My first rental car, wide roads. I always clench a bit
with a new friend, sure they’re bored, but after days together,
my guardrails were crumpling. Mo had few censors.
She was belting out a song from elementary school music class:
Oh Senor Don Gato was a cat!  On a high red roof Don Gato sat!
I sang too. We were two years out of college, we cruised
golden, so much ourselves we felt happily naked.

 But when we pulled into a gas station, the attendant
wiped his fingers grimly on a grey rag:
“Hey, girls, one of your tires– the lug nuts
are crazy loose. You’re lucky it didn’t spin off
and jerk ya right off the road!”
We had hung from threads, singing.

That was my 20’s: jolting down the road,
plucky, anxious, careening,
taking in scenery, sure the world
held my safety net, barely feeling
the silent wobble that in seconds
could’ve spun me into black. 


Naomi Thiers is the author of four poetry collections, including In Yolo County and She Was a Cathedral (Finishing Line Press) and Made of Air (Kelsay Books). Her poems and fiction have been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Colorado Review, Sojourners, and many others. She work as an editor for Educational Leadership magazine and lives in a condo on the banks of Four Mile Run with a people-loving cat.