Gather and Leave

We gather and leave
before dawn
to drive south
to a friend
who needs us.

I drowse in the back seat
my head against the cool window
still beaded with dew
and my mind wanders
with the songs on the radio.
Carole King comes on
and we sing together
about being down
and troubled
and having friends.

I think of the friendship
you and I tried to have.
And how you never would have
come to me like this
and how we had no song.

But that’s not true,
there was one about a green bird,
I had almost forgotten.
But that’s not true
I tried to forget it.
Like I tried to forget
all those nights
smoking on the patio
and waiting
for the disappointment
to go away.

We stop at a rest stop
along the still-misted river.
As I walk through the dim light
to the bathroom,
I notice that people
are sleeping
in the parked campers.

I pause
and hum a bit of song
for them,
a bit about a green bird
that flew away.

We settle back into the car
with the smell of vending machine coffee.

We get back on our way
south along the blue river
to the friend who needs us
and we sing different songs.

As I sing,
and sip terrible coffee,
I see these friends
and I think,
these I’ll keep.

– Copyright Kay Winter

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