Robert Farnsworth


At two each day the driver-
education car pulls up
to browse beneath our maple,
idling in shadows. Behind
the wheel a youth is bent
on behaving. Hand over hand
he grinds the gravel under
his tires, looking back
down the road’s green vault
to a stop sign. He stares
a long time, as if something
might materialize from all
that empty pavement,
suffering his retrospective
so long the instructor begins
to doubt his sincerity
or reason. But as he dallies,
his turn signal holds the whole
town in place like a postponed
resolution. Think of us old,
lingering in a modern age we
don’t understand, our wisdom
consisting only of such trivial
predictions—every one
promising those following
that we’ll be turning in,
just up there, where the maple
used to burn in October.

Robert Farnsworth
Destination is from Honest Water (Wesleyan University Press, 1989)