Poetry at Sangam



THE DRIVE DOWN by Joshua Gray

Ten hours later and a loaded car meant locking the house and leaving.
Ocracoke Island was a good eight hours of driving time
To the ferry, the ferry ride, and the fun drive up the island
With wild horses out their window, watching them pass as they raced.

Doris enjoyed Ocracoke Island; she always felt an omnipresent
Sense of a more stable self; this was home,
Not the chaos that currently called for her capability;
Whereas Bob despised all the sand inside his suit after a swim.

A growing desire to greet a bathroom became a great need
Only an hour or two after they left,
But Doris’ dad never dropped his speed
To a standstill except to summon some car-juice.

So the whining and worrying began, with some water drunk,
Until a comment to keep themselves calm and to hold it
Echoed in their ears with no earnest intention.
They bolted for the bathroom when the road-boat slowed to a stop.

Near the North Carolina border and now it was time
Dottie broke out the booze. By the time
They found the ferry gate she was a fool for a wife.
The haul up the island meant Doris held her eyes on the horses.

The family stayed with a stoic woman who strongly believed
The beauty of beaches was that they birthed a low-stress lifestyle.
Jean was a joyful family friend,
A widow who welcomed her guests with wine and cheer.

She’d not heard of Dottie’s unhelpful habit, and could hardly believe it
When Dottie entered the house in an eerie state of existence, like some error
Occurred, some cardinal sin was uncovered or encountered by accident.
But the truth was told, and Jean was tortured by its troublesome greeting.

(Excerpted from the book-length poem Principles of Belonging.)