Through Williams County, Ohio
There have been days of mountains and byways, of corn and conifer, and tonight we stumble into Ohio half-drunk on petrol. These roads are clean barren. The streetlamps have retired for the night.
The two of us scramble into a motel, flowered as if a church nursery or hospice. We muster a nervous sleep between the silences. The thistles and lavender blooms in Sandusky County—they wilt in the fields without hands to pick them.
Morning. The only signs to greet us are rheumy daylight and space. Everywhere, the space waits to be filled: between the sidewalks, between the creaky screen doors, between the magnetic poles of the crosswalk. The grass grows long, even in the lawns. Inhabitants are primarily chipmunks—careful, neurotic, busy.
We see only a handful of people, cataloging them:
(1) Housewife on a bicycle. She passes by twice to look at us strangely, and we do not believe she is going anywhere in particular.
(2) The gas station attendant. Already in the cool light of morning, he is bored and picking at his face.
(3) Pumping gas into a wax-clean Mercedes and dressed for a Presbyterian service, a man plays his gospel so loud that the hymns threaten to smash us.
We must go.
Building speed past a forsworn toy factory, Etch-a-Sketches lean lazily against the office windows. Gates shut, not locked – because why bother?
We are afraid to be caught in this place for too long.
On the edges of speeding peripheral vision, among the big waves of light, the last great man of Williams County. Sturdy, mustachioed, surveying a pair of dapple-black cows. Eyes clear, mind calm, his home is white, clean and solid as a thousand righteous Sundays.
His grass is true and strong.