The outskirts of Bozeman, Montana, where I was held by a road.

We talk freely about loving people, loving a favorite song or a favorite film - even loving a place. Can you love a road? And can a road love you back?

In 2010 I moved from one small town to another - well, to a slightly bigger town - in my attempt to find respite for my crushing depression. Winters were brutal for me. Would a more vibrant town help? That's what we hoped to find out.

That year was an unraveling. If I had to look back and mark a time when life had its way with me, that year would be at the top of the list. Even remembering it now, I can feel the ache, how much that year hurt. And yet that year was also profoundly alive. And there was so much beauty, too. Who knew how joy and pain could live, side by side?

I remember so clearly how I sat on my deck under the moon, wrapped in a blanket, weeping with the night sky. In the daylight hours, I walked a ribbon of road, over and over, until that road became a good friend. She held me as much as my friend Sue whom I also met that year, and who remains one of the most generously empathetic people I know.

That year marked the time when I began feeling my grief rather than trying to understand it. I felt as tender as I'd felt birthing a baby, and as vibrantly alive.

I wanted to capture the essence of that year in a poem, and how that road became my companion. I tried to so below. You can let me know if I was successful or not.

Who knew how a road could hold us? To all the roads that we have loved, and to all the roads that have loved us back.


In the low bottom of Montana

there is a town. On the outskirts

of that town there is a road. It winds

through the Hyalite hills. It crosses

a creek and travels through small

subdivisions of houses –

the quiet hum of soft traffic

through wheat fields.

If you look ahead you see waves of golden wheat.

If you look to your left you see the rising mountains.

If you look to your right you see the road to town.

I walked alongside that road

for a year. I walked and cried and walked

and cried, my hand warm against the

weight of my chest. I stopped at the creek

to throw rocks in the water, each stone

of regret a hard shame.

That year was the before and after –

when I stopped trying to explain

the particular ache of my wounds

and let them bloom, instead.

At nights I sat, a blanket wrapped

against the cold, and watched the

rising moon. I rocked

and cried and rocked and cried.

My friend says we must all grieve

deeply and well to live in this world.

That year, a stretch of road and arc

of moon and cradle of mountain

wrung me clean with grief.

I can still feel my footfalls

on the gravelly asphalt –

the warm heat of July and fierce

cold of January –

the way that road held me

and the way I came to love that road

and the way I came to be loved

by her.

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