Summer 2004 • Vol. XXVI No. 3 Poetry |

Ajar in Tennessee

A conspicuous freedom came out of everywhere. Slower traffic kept right, against the glare, before we got to Exit 133 and Birdsong Road, on the edge of the first array of slovenly lumps through which the river of rivers in Tennessee bore islands into a ripply inland ocean. We came to Cuba Landing and the Parkway Café, sitting down to onions and buttered bread. We spoke about how the fragrant air would spill over our faces as we stepped into a summer morning in Tuscany. How different it was there than in Tennessee, then or now. It's certainly nice to be here, don't get me wrong, but Italy was sweeter, you ventured. I looked over your shoulders at the curtains covered with chickadees. Are those chickadees or thrush do you think? I asked you. Maybe finch, you suggested. I think they could be finch. Background music swept over us from the background. We took to the road again, constantly eastward as the afternoon sped toward us awfully. I decided it was time I read Deuteronomy. The par

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Michael Heffernan teaches poetry at the University of Arkansas. He has won three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His seventh book, The Night Breeze Off the Ocean, will be published later this year.

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A conspicuous freedom came out of everywhere. Slower traffic kept right, against the glare, before we got to Exit 133 and Birdsong Road, on the edge of the first array […]

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