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Literary Hook: Poem celebrates the ritual of a summer trip

July 24, 2013

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Perhaps you have a favorite trip that has become a summer ritual for you. This poems celebrates such a trip. Tillamook is a true cowboy town in Oregon, just before you get to the ocean. There’s something about the trip from Portland to Tillamook that I find both soothing and exciting.

Again, on the Road to Tillamook

Heading west from Portland to Tillamook,

rain on the windshield,

the wipers syncopating

like the radio’s jazz, your fingers

tapping the steering wheel,

and suddenly I’m whistling a riff,

rolling down the windows,

catching a cool spray

against my shoulder,

think of a question to steer us

through the mountains,

deciding on no talk: just jazz,

soybean fields rolling by,

blue mountain’s rim of sun,

slash of amber cloud,

hint of moon. Then,

we’re really in the thick of it:

Sonny Rollins,

the silence of elk.

We’re blinking past Lee’s Camp Store,

where the radio gives up the ghost.

All stillness and the Pacific’s tug.

We have mastered this: driving

where even jazz can’t follow

to the other side, a pasture of cows,

rich odor of Tillamook.

Just ahead, where we can go

no further: the sea, the sea.

First published by Poetswest, then in Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.

From the July 24-30, 2013, issue

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