I tend to get an idea, jump in the car, then figure out what I should have brought along. I’m not sure, but I expect that’s not going to work this time – on my walk home. I didn’t do too badly in this case, but it was just one night on the beach – Long Beach in Plymouth. The end of Long Beach, which is just a few miles long and just 20 minutes by car from the historic center of town, is an amazing place: an oasis of shore birds, sea clams, and quiet – but is usually accessible only by foot, and they don’t allow overnight stays, save for one 6-day period every year. They hold a lottery to choose 36 people (usually 4 to a car) to camp for two days during August. I was given special permission to camp out on my own to write a story for the local paper. But I only got word that it would happen a week before. So I scrambled about, and on that Wednesday drove our Outback through the knee-high sand to the end of the beach. As beautiful as it was, I couldn’t help but think how unprepared I am, now, for my walk across the country. How I will have to get in shape, toughen myself up for nights sleeping on the ground, start walking around barefoot to toughen up my feet, start getting to bed early so I can get up early and be done for the day early. It’s overwhelming, even frightening. But when the day comes, no matter how prepared I appear to be, it will still feel (I am sure) no different.
I’M WALKING HOME. TAKING A YEAR TO WALK ACROSS THE COUNTRY. BRINGING YOU WITH ME OR MEETING YOU ALONG THE WAY. Tonight someone I couldn’t remember having told about my walk, began talking about my walk, excitedly talking about it, wanting to know how far I had progressed, whether I had set a date – oh yes – and then she began to tell me how she thought about it, how she envisioned the walk, the ideas I had expressed to her, sometime, somewhere, as a sphere. I imagined at first a large soap bubble, but she meant something self-contained, a capsule in which my ideas, my passion for this idea, a map of the route I would take, were contained within. She was so excited. I started to get excited. I said, for the first time, that the walk was a poem I was writing and that, on the first day, with that first step I would begin to recite.. the finished piece. I can’t wait. But I have to wait.
I am so fat they have to hoist me
into my overalls. Pulleys, not clasps,
keep my pants up. In the spring my head
is covered with soy. Later, like corn,
I row the swells, longing clouds, grazing sheep
Pasted on to the pale horizon.
The other farmers have gone fishing.
Under the beech trees by the ferry
they spend midsummer swapping silences.
I think of you out here. Imagine
What it is I imagine you to be.
A game of scrabble. County roads in
Wisconsin named for consonants.
On J I cross I then W
Into New Diggings, Scales Mound,
Illinois, 15 into Schapville,
Across the Apple River.
So many ways to spell your name.