Dead Ends · William Borden

I’ve been taking back roads. Some say “Dead End.”
I follow them anyway. Some go for quite a way,
past drying soy beans, corn fields, and pasture,
dwindling finally into a farmer’s back yard,
or a grassy riverbank overhung by low trees
where ducks fly off, scattering water.

Then I think,
every road’s a dead end,
every highway ends somewhere—
U.S. 1 at Key West, I-35 at Laredo
or at Duluth, depending on
where you start. I-5 ends
at Tiajuana or Bellingham, I-90
at the Atlantic Ocean or Puget Sound.

Every highway should have a sign
every few miles and at each end, so you’re
not lulled into a cockamamie optimism.

Dead end.
It’s where we’re going, every damn one of us,
wind combing our hair, radio wailing,
tires humming, bugs splattering,
no matter how many rest stops
we stretch our legs at to prolong the trip,
no matter if the journey lasts days or years,

we turn up finally
where the sign says,

Here you are at last,
old fellow, where the gravel peters out,
the open space begins,
and night falls fast.