TWO POEMS: Driving Home in the Dark

About these poems: Summer evenings have always been a time of quiet and reflection for me. These two poems share a common theme of what it is like to return home after having spent a day picnicking and enjoying the outdoors in summertime.

The first poem, “Driving Home in the Dark,” was written after a day-long outing to Cold Spring, New York, with just my wife. By this time our two older children were out of the house and our two younger children were old enough to be left home alone. After dark we drove back down the Hudson Valley along a two lane road.

The first poem ends with the lines, “And I remember other nights of driving home in the dark.” After I wrote it, I felt a need to explain what happened on those “other nights.” Hence the title of the second poem, “On Other Nights.” However, I had this poem kicking around in my brain for 11 years, before it finally came together. The setting is the foothills of Denver, Colorado, when I was about 6 years old and the eldest of 5 children.

1. DRIVING HOME IN THE DARK

“Driving Home in the Dark”
Read by Mike Weber

Summer night
two hours after nightfall.
Stars and moonlight streaming through branches
overarching a country road.
Windows open, I drive unhurriedly,
relishing the sight and sound and sensation
of moving through the dark.

Headlights on low beam,
casting a moving shadow of light.
Median line marches by in hypnotic procession.
Mailboxes and driveways, flowerbeds and trees,
swim into view only to disappear
in the trailing wake of darkness.

Swoosh.
Swoosh.  Swoosh.
Travelers pass by at irregular intervals.
Not going my way.
Unseen strangers in steel worlds of their own
yet united by the darkness,
the road and the night.

Cooling breeze
flows through the window,
stroking the hairs of my forearm.
It glides across my face,
whispers in my ear,
and sends glistening waves of pleasure
cascading down the back of my neck
into the depths of my soul.

And you.
You sit beside me.
Hand in my lap, drifting towards sleep.
Quiet, content, not quite awake,
yet fully present to my heart.
And I remember other nights
of driving home in the dark.

© September 6, 2001, by Rev. Michael A. Weber

2. ON OTHER NIGHTS

“On Other Nights”
Read by Mike Weber

On other nights I am a child,
sitting behind my father in a ’57 Chev,
our family returning from an evening in the mountains.
Our hair, smoky from the campfire,
our mouths, sticky with marshmallows and soot—
my sisters doze beside me on the crowded seat,
but I am awakening to immensity.

We snake our way down a two-lane road,
gently swaying into each curve.
Foothills rise above us,
broad shoulders upholding the skies.
Night air descends through open windows,
washing us with sweet comfort.
Rounding a bend, the mountains part,
like stage curtains revealing the lights of Denver—
a galaxy of man-made stars fallen from the heavens,
spread out on the plains below.

In this moment, I am held
by something infinite I cannot name—
               the strong presence of my father,
               the cocooning nearness of my family,
               a luminescence in the dark—
And my heart whispers its first wordless
Amen.

Rev. Michael A. Weber, October 7, 2012

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