The providers, the corrugaters of grave clothes that served
pills and sloppy joes and warning glares
remind those discharging not to stop for gas in Gary, Indiana;
ask if they want a list of alternative rest stops.
The therapist who’d led his group for the year he was there
hugged him and whispered I love you
as he walked out for the last time. It would be another
four years before he was ready to see me.
As the falsetto of tires droned underneath
Dad and I on our first road trip since his release,
he showed me his own list of rest stops:
those who love you, a good book, your dog,
a nap in the sun, healthy food, a long walk.
“What was the first thing you did when
you first got out?” I said, turning down Garth Brooks
on the radio. “Said I love you,” he answered without hesitation.
We had passed Dodge, Bedlam, Looneyville,
well beyond Gary, Indiana, before I thought to ask
who he said it to. “Myself,” he said, no change in tone.
Megan Wildhood produces a monthly newsletter; has released a poetry chapbook, Long Division (Finishing Line Press, 2017); will release a full-length collection, Bowed As If Laden With Snow, in 2023 (Cornerstone Press); and has published work in Gem of the Sound, Mad in America, and other literary publications.