Riding Toward the Far Ridge

Somewhere in between West Virginia and North Carolina,
Interstate-Seventy-Seven makes a long downhill slide
through a place that is not quite heaven
but definitely well this side of hell

and off to the east side through the gaps in the trees
you can occasionally see miles of Virginia valley and distant mountains,
and although it is not the Shenandoah,
it is mighty beautiful on a green summer day—

the way one shade layers behind another and another,
and in the far distance greens turn into blues and grays.

But I would have to say that seventy-miles-an-hour on a motorcycle
is not the best way to take in views like this;
but there are suppers I don’t want to miss
and I am too riveted on the road ahead

to be turning my head off to the side
in a place in the world where rocks sometimes slide
out into the paths that we have meant for other things,
and it takes less than a second

for life to bring something you hadn’t counted on,
didn’t see coming, and getting there safely 
takes more than a measure of luck
and a quickly murmured prayer with each passing truck.

Still, I wish I’d built in more time for the traveling

so that I could swing over onto the shoulder
in the thick shade of this chiseled bluff,
lean the bike over on the kickstand,
cross these two lanes

and stand in the shadows of tall hardwoods
looking out over these forested miles
until I could finally whisper “I have had enough—
at least for a while,”

then smile to myself and be ready again 
for riding further on this long road that I have chosen.

H. Arnett

First Published in Faith on Every Corner, March 2023 issue, p. 65. 

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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