North

North

Get here.

It’s the only place I know.

Start in the hallway

go down past the mirror

and the little hutch

with the silver and china

turn left at the dining room

table and on thru the kitchen

and out the back door where you

smoked weed for the first time

behind the little green shed

and further even, out past

the fence and down Willow Lane

and into the woods behind

the subdivision and then

down to the creek—

pure wilderness—

and then Route One and 95

North and South, that corridor

on which you’ll spend

a great chunk of your life

and down to the Potomac

and out to the Bay

and then into Maryland

to get some soft-shelled crabs

that are poured from a bushel

a big steaming pile in the middle

of a picnic table and then all

the way out to the Atlantic

where you can catch the winds

that will pull you North

You never even thought

of the North, not in any

real way, only when Mr. O’Neil

told you about living in Boston

before Earth Science in 9th grade.

One day he came to class

and put his head down

on the table and told you

to do whatever you wanted

so long as you were quiet.

That’s all you knew about Boston.

That’s all there was to know.

Who knew that you’d drift even further

North, up past Massachusetts

and wind up in NH

writing at the end of a long day

at the end of a long semester

with a group of students who

don’t even know about paper maps?

You couldn’t have known

no one ever knows

that’s why I’m giving

you directions now

even though it’s

already too late.