On the latter road

I’m not a poetry gal. Really, really not. I had a mild upswell of interest when I discovered prose poetry, but that didn’t last long. For the most part, I dislike trying to write it, hate reading it, and often feel a gag reflex initiating when trying to listen to it in public. I do not like ‘poetry voice.’

As with every rule, there are exceptions. The only one I’ll name here and now is Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” I know, everyone loves that poem. It’s practically a cliche, or at least an American standard that everyone can quote from, and appreciate on some level.

When I was young, I appreciated it in a purely literal way. I equated the road not taken, the one that “was grassy and wanted wear,” with America’s backroads, and I spent a year exploring the blue highways, the roads less taken. I traveled the length of the country many times over, putting more than 100,000 miles on my truck and…

Oh dear. I just flipped back to my archive to find where I referenced my first 100,000 miles (nowhere, by the way, that was just the title of the unpublished travel book/memoir I had in my head) and I got completely sucked in. Oh, the memories I’ve forgotten! Okay, back to the present.

So I really thought I was taking the road less traveled by. I was sure of it. Even though I knew what a metaphor was, even though I knew that poetry very rarely meant what it was explicitly saying, I was sure I was following Frost’s sage advice.

Now? I still feel like I’m following his advice, in a much more metaphorical fashion. Work for a marijuana how-to company? Why not! A job driving a train presented itself. Well, heck, no one drives a train nowadays! Sure, I’ll do that for a while. A non-profit job? No one who has an ounce of self-preservation and professional aspirations takes a job like that! I’ll do it!

I still feel, just a little bit, like I’m missing his meaning. I’m sure it’ll present itself to me when I’m 80, and I’ll switch my whole life-path to intersect with that less-traveled path at that point. Until then, tally-freaking-ho.


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