Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GOOD-BYE DOROTHY GAYLE: OVER THE MACKINAC, by KAREN SWENSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

GOOD-BYE DOROTHY GAYLE: OVER THE MACKINAC, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: She always wanted to be dorothy gayle
Last Line: Sailboats like dropped handkerchiefs below me.
Subject(s): Legacies; Mothers & Daughters; Travel; Journeys; Trips

There were several roads nearby, but it did not take her long to
the one paved with yellow brick. Within a short time she was walking
briskly toward the Emerald City, her silver shoes tinkling merrily on
the hard, yellow roadbed.

L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

She always wanted to be Dorothy Gayle -
adventurous and decorous
knowing how to talk to both lions and princesses -
but men were not as easily defeated
as wizards and gnome kings.

My dear, dead Dorothy Gayle,
a pheasant clatters overhead
like a broken sandalwood fan.
The sky is beginning to open
and clouds lay lakes of shadow on the road
as I drive them shore to shore.

6 AM in motels decorated with dawn,
instant coffee in water glasses,
her hands firm through the morning lap
of red-brick towns while I tracked us -
I read maps long before I read novels.

On this road
going up the Peninsula
the rain was so heavy
she had to open the passenger door
to guide me to the Mackinac bridge.

I hear her voice through the rain,
"Don't. Don't ever marry again.
They don't let you breathe."

The world blooms on either side of the road
two springs after her death as I drive our old route.
Wild white iris ghosts the ditches
and beyond the simple petals of wild rose,
rainbows of lupine.

Tears sit on my lower lids
like birds on a telephone wire.
I drive through them
over the Mackinac's high span,
sailboats like dropped handkerchiefs below me.

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