This old highway used to be…
That can be a terrible phrase, “used to be”
…used to be an artery of the South.
That flow of life has dried up a bit now.
Traffic is sparse
On this old road.
With two lanes worth of travelers
And barely that.
It’s a beautiful drive though.
Stretches of fertile fields,
Rich fresh-turned soil,
That will be filled with corn or cotton or
The young sibling,
Stands of woods break apart the fields,
Not old growth,
(Very little old growth left here)
But a few hundred-year-old trees still hold court,
Whispering old-tree stories to the young oaks, pines and hickories.
There is a grove,
A planted grove obviously
(Because nature doesn’t do rows and columns)
Of unknown trees
That catch my spirit up
Every time I drive by.
Slender gray trunks reach straight up,
And the leaves are broad and a pale golden-green
That seems to shimmer in the setting sun.
I always think of it as my personal fairie forest,
Though it’s not mine
And it’s not a forest,
And I’ve never seen an elf there.
Still, that’s what I call it.
My favorite part of that old highway,
Strange though it may seem,
Are the dilapidated and abandoned buildings.
Old two pump gas stations.
Dozen roomed motor hotels in one long row with the giant flying V that seemed to represent the future in that past.
Occasional diners and food joints
(My favorite one has a giant metal coffee pot jutting out from the roof just over the door).
It’s not the wreck and ruin of them I like.
It’s seeing them and imagining when they were new,
When life flowed up and down this road,
When sundresses and bonnets and fedoras (and farmers in overalls and truckers in dungarees) filled those buildings.
The ghosts still linger.
I guess they aren’t ghosts.
Each moment still exists.
Those ghosts are just images seen through a lens of far away and back then.
Someday I guess I’ll be someone else’s ghost.
I’ll be part of the used to be
On this old highway.