Riding in the Passenger Seat

we were driving to see a covered bridge
in Moscow, Indiana, a rural configuration
that can barely be called a town.

it’s hot and humid, salty drops
on our foreheads, so we’re slurping
down sweet tea made with filtered

water, just as we take in
the fields and the big sky,
unmarred by hills or mountains,

textured by the low soybean fields
and the tall corn, the gold inside,
brandishing our cameras, so it’s obvious

we aren’t locals, a California infusion
to the local economy, because long ago
my parents substituted that home

for this one, when it occurs to me
that these farmers do not just eke
out a living, that life is all around.

sure, there was the wooden house,
abandoned, imploding in geologic time,
the bricks of the chimney the only

straight lines to be seen, but that
was the exception rather than the rule,
when my uncle brings the car

to a stop, and we’re at the bridge.

* * * * *

This poem was written in response to Wordle 4 at a wordling whirl of Sundays. Thanks again to Brenda for hosting this wonderful site.

18 thoughts on “Riding in the Passenger Seat

  1. This is superb. It feels like the beginning of a story… It brings so many pictures with it, reminding me of that lovely highly-out-of character book by John Grisham: The Painted House.


  2. Richard, I too thought of Grisham’s book, one I really enjoyed reading. I bow to your ability to leave the words in their original state. Although I try, I don’t think I’ve ever really accomplished that. You’ve drawn a wonderfully fine-lined image of place and time. Thank you,



    • Elizabeth, thank you as always for your kind and thoughtful words. Now that you and Viv have mentioned that Grisham book, I will have to check it out. We’ll see how long I can hold out on not altering the words that Brenda chooses.



  3. I enjoyed this car ride, Richard. The way your sentences continue from one line to the next, from one stanza to the next, and your ee cummings-like lack of capitalization all enhance the meandering quality of the trip you took us on. Great wordle poem.


  4. Richard!

    Another fine example of your talent. Being from the Midwest myself (and not far from the bridges of Madison County, in Iowa), I was transported instantly to the scene you set. I loved traveling with you as I shared the view from the passenger’s seat!

    I love doing the wordles and I do also try to keep the words “as is”…not always easy. Here’s my week 4 wordle: Surrender.

    Kudos upon kudos,


  5. Paula, thank you. I think my Midwest roots run pretty deep. Glad you liked it. We try to get back there every two years over summer vacation; my boys love going there.

    I’m so glad that Brenda is giving us those wordles. They are fun to write to – and the challenge of not changing the words makes it even more interesting.

    As alway, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments.



  6. I love your phrases in this one: ‘a rural configuration/ that can barely be called a town’, ‘the big sky,/ unmarred by hills or mountains’ (that’s what my country feels like to me, unless you’re in a city. And who wants to be there all the time? Ick), ‘imploding in geologic time’… lovely.
    I agree with bonneypoet: there’s a floaty e e cummings feel. I enjoyed the meandering thought process.


    • Bridget, thank you. I live in California, which is hilly, so I enjoy going back to Indiana, where it is flat. I was trying to capture that experience, and the thoughts that went through my head sitting next to my uncle.



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