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  • Writer's pictureAnne Mitchell

Crossing the Bonneville Salt Flats with Gnat

We left Salt Lake City at dawn, westward

on I-80, onyx river over salt,

daughter furled in a seat-belted nest,

over landscapes of Pluto, wrapped

in a sawtooth horizon, a lake of milk-

I am tempted to wake her, “check out this scene!

tough ride in wagons for the Donner party.”

Cue the fill-in first mate, innocent nervy

Gnat, stowaway or shanghaied hitchhiker,

I do not try to catch him, but welcome enthusiastic

aerials In my sightline over the dash, for he’s my new friend,

my partner now- we’re explorers at the aurora

hour of rose. “Gnat! did you see that?” he backflips

as we spot the tower, a bouquet of planets,

a behemoth cactus blossoms, spinning

arcs of the cosmos sculpted in turquoise,

lemon and ruby mosaic. A figure eight of glee

from Gnat as the roadside art show unfolds-green tires

of a sea serpent then tail, fin and incisors of a shark,

a baby doll in burlap kneels at Stonehenge in bottles.

When the lake ends, a rest stop at the edge,

I unlatch the door, and Gnat is sucked

out, “Gnat, no!" my daughter awakes and asks,

“who are you talking to?”

Where's my co-pilot? Dedicated to my daughter Maeve who is my best traveling buddy.


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