THE BACK ROADS OF LOVE
THE BACK ROADS OF LOVE
No one knows the cost of love until it’s done.
Like when I agreed we’d buy that mule we didn’t need,
Because the farmer who owned it wasn’t treating it right,
And you felt sorry for it.
So you walked the two miles from our farm to his to get it
And lead it home.
You must have been gone an hour when you called,
Saying you were only a quarter of the way back and needed my help,
How the farmer warned you, as you led the mule through his gate,
That sometimes the beast just stopped
And wouldn’t budge another inch,
Until someone came behind it and blew a horn.
I see now that was the height of it,
How I came to your rescue in our pick up,
How I followed you down the winding, dirt road
Honking my horn every twenty feet or so, to get your ass to move.
I can still see the people staring as we went by
You in your work jeans, the old mule and me in the Ford;
The lesbians who let you use their phone,
Out washing their car,
How they stopped splashing each other to wave good-bye;
The Irish racist with the twelve kids at the top of the hill,
Who cursed us to go back where we came from;
The unwashed hermit with his beard of pubic hair,
Building a stone wall around his log cabin,
Laughing so hard he had to cover his pebbly teeth with his dirty ball cap;
The old woman who waved her shotgun
And warned us not to wake her daughter
Who we knew was dead these twenty years.
And then, when we got onto the paved road,
With the cars and trucks backing up behind us,
Swearing and calling you names that I secretly agreed with,
And I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed of you
And your mule and myself for being part of all this;
And finally taking it all out on old man
Johnson in the car behind, who used to be a friend,
Calling out through his car window,
Who passed more gas, you or the mule.
And who was laughing so hard,
I had to get out of the truck and punch him,
To protect your honor, or my own,
And still he didn’t stop laughing.
So when you say I never loved you,
Then what was that?
Even now that the mule’s been put down, and you’ve left, I still pay for it:
Sooner or later, one of Johnson’s sons will get to drinking at the Olde Brooke Inn,
And laugh up the story of you and the mule and me honking the horn,
And the trouble starts all over.
I will never love so much again.
©2012 This work is the property of the author.