The Road

Yungas Road, Bolivia, often called “the world’s most dangerous road.”

Yungas Road, Bolivia, often called "the world's most dangerous road."

The road beckoned them all —
those with brave mottoes,
those with timid hearts,
those with rising dreams.
They were all hailed to travel,
where the daunting is the narrow,
the haunting is the curve,
and the spiral demands
a dead reckoning.

Too easy it would be
to launch into the sky,
where mountains of dreams
would hasten hearts to fly,
but not even green growth
upon steep incline
can promise fruition
at the end of that line.

So they traveled along,
both the valiant and the meek,
heeding the call of the road
to know which path to seek.

© Katherine Michaels, 2014

Author’s Note

Why do we take the paths we do? Why do we begin the journey one way and change it sporadically, as in the format of this poem? What effect is caused when a non-rhyming poem has sudden, scattered rhymes?


Yikes!  That is one treacherous road, isn’t it?  I saw a picture on Facebook recently with a vehicle stalled in the middle of it.  (If you can call it the middle when it covers both sides.)   I’m trying to think what could possibly motivate me to travel such a road.  Certainly not money — probably only a rescue mission for someone I love, and I mean *really* love.  Knowing that, for some, the call of adventure is sufficient in itself somehow gives me a vicarious thrill.  It makes me want to stretch myself by doing something outrageously out of character today.

You’ve done a great job of evoking that feeling of ambivalence with this poem, Kate.  The format follows the road’s own twists and turns with breathless wonder in the unexpected rhymes, internal only in the first stanza, which is brought full circle from beckoned to reckoning.  Still time to turn back, but no … that dead reckoning has calmed the inner turmoil.  It is no longer a question of whether, or even of where.  YES, we will go forward with firm resolve.  And here where the rubber meets the road, the lines tighten.  This choreography reflects an amazing sense of timing.  Well done!

Too easy it would be
to launch into the sky,

Too often we see inversion not working, which sorta gives it a bad rap.  This is a good example of using it effectively.   “It would be too easy” to trivialize this moment with common speech, but with the loftier tone of “Too easy it would be,” you have set the stage for liftoff.  Very poetic.

I don’t know what it’s called when FV and R&M are used in the same poem, but I’m not at all bothered by it as long as they are clearly distinguishable from one another.  The freedom of unhindered line endings in the first stanza is well suited to the trepidation of beginning, and the sure steps moving on lead to a fitting conclusion.  I wouldn’t call that random.

This is  a thoroughly enjoyable read and a magnificent reminder of the nobility of the human spirit in braving the challenges before us.  Thank you for it.

Mary Boren