Awareness is creeping in that the Alaskan Way viaduct will be leveled sometime this year, another surge in the great Seattle overhaul; one more way my town is becoming unrecognizable. The western face of the city will be transformed. So I notice the highway like I never have before. And I recognize that I’ll actually miss this creaky, cracking high road, not just as a West Seattleite who drives it often, but because we're the same age. If it's on its last legs, am I next?
Last week, on a frosty afternoon, I found myself wandering around the waterfront, noticing the viaduct up close. The light was poetical. No poet myself, I’m sharing a few lyrical lines today (it's the birthday of the esteemed Robert Frost) about highways that poets have memorialized; along with some images I’ll hold in my mind when they reduce the elevated highway to rubble.
Meanwhile I'm not looking forward to the enormous mess that will entail.
-From Directive Robert Frost, 1947
And in a town that is no more a town. The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you Who only has at heart your getting lost, May seem as if it should have been a quarry – Great monolithic knees the former town Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
Down an orphaned bypass, trailing with ash Near a slide of asphalt off the next ramp Memories of gridlock are stained in the tarmac As Tire tracks trail like, old Viking runes
From The Road Not Taken Robert Frost, 1916
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
From Mi Historia
David Dominguez, 1971
My red pickup choked on burnt oil
as I drove down Highway 99.
In wind-tattered garbage bags
I had packed my whole life:
two pairs of jeans, a few T-shirts,
an a pair of work boots.
From Red Mustang On The Highway Uriah Hamilton
There’s a red mustang on the highway, We should be driving at dusk To some sleepy seaport town Where we could drink whiskey sours On a beach scattered with starlight And translate the language of romance.
From Highway Jimmhy Hegan, 2015
They make VIP route for VIP personal and Common route for common personal But Highway is for everybody where You run fast and slow, save and die. Highway that runs night and day with every kind of vehicles carrying VIP and Common personal. Highway is better than humans beings which makes no differences.
By the highway I came, But by the highway I return not. And so I find me still on the embarkment, not having gone even half the way, And the day is done, the light has failed. I search my pockets but not a cowrie find: What shall I pay for the ferry fee?
Life is a grumpy highway,
to good to be plain.
You have your your choices,
Under circumstances, sun or heavy rain
On the highway a female traffic cop pulls me off and with a book and pen she trots to the window which glides electrically into the frame.
All poem excerpts are copyrighted to the poets, and linked to the full poem online. All photos © 2018 Susan Cummings. All rights reserved.