Cholame: Junction Interstate 46/41

Moon Man 2
By Vincent Joseph Noto

Crowds gather.
I just make them out
as I drive eastward
along I-46
on the outskirts
of Paso Robles
at Cholame.
They congregate
at the Jack Ranch Cafe
where the James Dean
wraps around a tree.
(I hadn’t yet worked out
that it’s the anniversary of
Dean’s death and I’m
traveling the route
of Donald Turnupseed).

I make my turn
through the left
ventricle of
“Bloody Alley”
onto I-41
before the sumptuous
curve of hills
and winding
highway ahead
and drive off the road
at sixty miles an hour
while stretching for
an audio cassette
that has slipped my grasp
landing on
the passenger-side
I jerk back
off the dusty shoulder
and onto
pavement again
without mishap
but it seems
a near thing.

It’s later.
In my rear
view mirror
the sun slumps
bleeding red
behind the lush
of the Coastal Range,
and the road
straightens out
past Kettleman City;
I’m on the long,
flat drive to Fresno.
Now, the night sky
turns upon a pin
at its poles
and the dashes upon
the road mark time.

I’ve a sense
of workdays passing
like picket fences,
street lamps,
porch lights, and
orchard and vineyard rows
there in the semidark—
that the earth
gapes and yawns.
And a state of mind
comes to me then
as of the car
and as of the earth
under us —
a feeling of a certain
inherent in our movement—
this car’s and mine—
and all the motion now
is in the wheels,
in the road,
in the earth,
and in the stars.
They alone
roll on,

note: Cholame a Salinan Central Coastal, Native American word, is pronounced “show-lamb” and means “beautiful one.”

First appeared in Spot Lit(erary) Magazine.

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