Farewell to Roses
Now comes the end of this stretch of road
paved in lengths measured by months and years,
that long ago I set my feet upon with an innocence
now worn away like tread too thin to hope to mend.
Those were days of all points exploration, scouting out
happenstance always streaming around the bend,
the happy jam of traffic, of introductions and faces
and maps made of the routes there for the choosing.
So many of those faces disappeared far too soon,
shotgun riders later spotted on billboards at roadsides
or splayed on block-lettered flyers stapled to posts,
their familiarity repossessed, leaving only strangers.
And what of the lovers just along for the ride,
to whom I was chauffeur in more generous days,
who borrowed my keys for their unfaithful joyride
til they emptied the tank and then ditched the wreck?
As I draw near the edge of this city, of its limits,
I will try to forget all the fines that I paid
and the hitchhiker mileage now displayed on my face
for a shot at the on ramp and the freeway beyond.
About the Poem
This poem was started the week before I moved from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. I wanted to express and perhaps resolve some of what I was feeling about leaving the city of Portland as well as all the memories of life in my nine years there. The imagery began with the notion of taking to the road to start a new chapter of my life elsewhere and quickly became a major motif of the verse. However, as the date of the move drew close, there was too much to do in preparation to finish the poem to my satisfaction. I had a draft but one with which I was not entirely thrilled in spots. So I put it aside to focus on moving. Somehow, I suspect that was a bit of intuition on my part that the concept and meaning needed more time to simmer before I could call it cooked. Put another way, I probably needed some distance in time after the move to help me find the right tone overall. As an aside, the title reference to roses when none are mentioned or described in the poem itself stems (pardon the pun) from the fact that Portland, Oregon is frequently called the Rose City.
This poem was written January 17, 2013 and is previously unpublished in print.