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Contents Page: October, 2010, vol 6 no 3

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Glenn Coats

Tobacco Road

One more trip to town, one more list to fill before we close up the cottage. Leftover gasoline needs a stabilizer to preserve it for nine more months. The mower needs a new blade and the dock a bungee cord so it can move in and out with the ice.

Smith Falls is busy. Cars and campers are driving in for the Chocolate Festival. Fresh corn and fries signs pop up along the highway. At the coffee shop, I check plates and a few of the trucks are from America.

In the middle of the traffic, a police car flashes its lights and comes to an abrupt stop. The young officer leaves his vehicle and darts in and out of traffic picking handfuls of loose cigarettes from the road.

summer detour
I turn down the radio
to see clearly

We pick up a few groceries at Basics and drive south on Route 15. Just outside the city limits, cigarettes begin to cover the shoulders like winter snow. Every few hundred yards, another patch of white.

Vehicles have begun to park along the south and northbound shoulders. Young men without shirts hurry to gather cigarettes in their pockets and bags. They are like children on an Easter egg hunt. The older men and one woman move slowly and bend like farmers from the waist. They fill their wide hats up with the nameless brands.

I follow the path for ten miles. There are still clumps of cigarettes where I turn right, west on Route 42. A few horses and cows move behind squares of farm fence. Queen Anne’s Lace sprouts from the gravel and the road is open and empty.

onshore wind
the ripple of reeds
in all directions

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