Mile Marker 322

by Michelle Stoner

Start with the flowers: hostas, lilac,
firework of the bright hydrangea.

Move to the lichen, greenblue
on stone, ancient, and wonder

what will remain of now, be lost.
Which piece will you miss most

when it is gone, emptied like coal
cars, rusted, running under this bridge,

grey area, mechanism, a link.
Metaphors are like passenger trains, 

bridging the gap between east and
west, moss and fence, and you.

From up the hill to the crinoline ball
to down the street where skin is rubbed raw,

you are all these things: stardust and lock
on the chainlink for love, sycamore bark.

You are the woman in traffic behind you singing,
birds alighting to the top of the courthouse dome,

groundwater seeping up from the shale
of this cliffside sheared and crumbling

to the shining steel tracks below. You are
the momentary bones of these mountains,

dateless, but still impermanent. So think now
of what you love about water, before it goes dry.