Driving down the Woodbury gulf in the twilight, staring at the road — snow-crusted, ice packed, with two curving black lines of asphalt worn through winter — I remember all those years of driving mountainous Route 9 in southern Vermont and wonder, What if I’d stayed in Brattleboro? What if my kids went to school there? I made soup with my publisher and used the Brooks Library with their enormous windows? What if I lived on Elliot Street again?
That’s January thinking.
My gaze lifts from the treacherous road to the gray and white mountains folding around that narrow valley, with the waterfalls and the rocky cliffs high overhead.
Trouble follows you anywhere. I know that. The last time I was in Brattleboro, itinerancy surprised me, the darker threads of our society thickening. I was glad I hadn’t stayed, that I had swapped a larger town for a smaller one. In the end maybe, it’s all Vermont roads, with those mysteriously beautiful mountains always greater than us, rising silently.
The winter wind flings pebbles
at the temple bell