Posts Tagged ‘nowhere to go’

A Long Street

July 23, 2017


When I am walking at night and my shadow stops,
it is too late to turn back.
I scuff my shoes on the concrete.

Around the water tower nighthawks are dipping for moths.
I gaze at the lights
and there is nowhere to go.

I sit on the curb and stare down the street.
It is a long street of houses and yards and parked cars.
There is nowhere it will take me.

My shadow lies on the concrete like paint.
It has stuck to my shoes
and I can’t kick free.

Across the street a dog barks through a fence.
No one comes to the door.
He sniffs and wags his tail.

In my pockets, I have four dimes and a set of keys,
but there is nothing to buy
and no door my keys will open.


First published in Cottonwood (formerly Cottonwood Review).



I seem to have spent a lot of my life walking, especially at night. I grew up on the 20-acre remains of an old farm in northern Indiana. Since I had both an older and younger sister, it often seemed a good idea to escape for a walk around our property. But I wasn’t limited to our twenty acres. We lived in an over-sized section. One mile by one and a quarter miles. The road had been shifted over to avoid going up the middle of a long wetlands. There were a few houses along the outside, but the whole middle was woods, pasture, small marshes, and ponds. If I was in serious enough trouble with my sisters, I could wander for hours.

When I went to college, I walked everywhere I needed to go. At that time, most college students didn’t have cars. When I had trouble at school, with my classes or with my personal life, I walked around at night, especially when the fog came up from the river. It seemed symbolic. I went out walking almost every night my freshman year. Sometimes I woke my roommate up when I came in at dawn. When I felt lost, it was better to go walking than to sit like a lump in my room.

Walking is still one way I find myself and cope with life. For the last ten years, I have had to walk most of the day five days a week for my job at the store. And even there, among all the pages and shoppers, it has been a way to find myself. I have been finding myself by walking, ever since, as a preschooler, I ran away from our house to find solace walking along the edge of our marsh.

I find who I am inside by walking. It helps me become aware of where I am in my life. But as far as where all this walking is taking me, of which way I should go, well, I still have not a clue.

The Bernie & Viola Smetzer homestead in 1956.

My childhood home, taken for an aireal canvas of county homesteads in 1956.