Inspired by Carlos Drummond de Andrade’s “No meio do caminho

 

The rock in the middle of the road
appeared one morning
when the sun burned through the fog.
Explanations scattered everywhere
along Main and Commercial Streets
to explain the rock’s arrival.
Surveillance videotape revealed nothing
and no one confessed.
The Town Council held an emergency meeting.

A Committee was formed
to make a recommendation on what to do with
the rock in the middle of the road.
Two opposing factions emerged.
I couldn’t take a side
even though neutrality made me unpopular.

Quarrels congregated everywhere
along Main and Commercial Streets.
Opinions swayed daily due to
impassioned oration in front of town hall.
Though illegal u-turns were no longer possible
some found salvation in the rock
but many others took offense
not only to the rock as eyesore or obstacle
but also to the views of those
who flaunted their eagerness to disagree.
Mr. Truman, for example, was looking for an excuse
to harbor resentment toward Mr. Winsome.
Truman secretly celebrated
the rock in the middle of the road
even though publicly he advocated moving it.
He used the ensuing fracas as an opportunity
to make a new enemy.
And Winsome was surprised
how quickly he hated his former friend.

The community found no middle ground
on what to do with
the rock in the middle of the road.
It remained in place for one year,
despite the slight majority
that voted to remove it in a special referendum.
Protesters blockaded the road
when they learned a work crew was sent
to cart the rock away.
They chanted “The rock is God’s will”
or “The rock is perfect and pretty.”
And so the rock stayed—
the work crew did not dare defy God…
or the love of beauty!

I waited for the strawberry moon
to roll the rock back to where I found it.
In the morning anxiety sprouted up everywhere
along Main and Commercial Streets.
All agreed:
life without the rock
would be worse than with it.
But I suspected that
my neighbors were bereft
of the bickering.

By evening the Council announced
that a Committee had been formed
to decide whether or not
a replacement would be found for
the rock in the middle of the road.
No doubt nostalgia—like the fog—
would opaque the night.

 

Edward Miller

Edward Miller

Edward D. Miller is Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island and on the faculty of the programs in Theatre and Film at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His creative works appear in Counterexample Poetics, Hinchas de Poesia, Wilderness House Literary Journal, The Boston Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Red Fez, Drunk Monkeys, Bloodstone Review, Handsy, and The Bangalore Review. 

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