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Updated: Mar 2, 2021

On my right, a dust-devil twirls

in a bare plowed field.

Beyond lies the Coast Range,

a violet trace across the horizon.

Between us, miles of dry fields

and a brushstroke of trees.

On my left, the ridges of the Cascades

assert their green darkness.

Before me, the Interstate stretches straight

and straighter.

Above me, the sunroof of my car

and a deep blue skin of sky


between the top of my head

and the ancient


A while later

I pass over the Willamette river

and take

my exit.


From 1988 to 2015, I commuted 45 miles each way daily from our home in Eugene, Oregon, to Albany, where I was an English professor at Linn-Benton Community College. My drive took me through the lower half of the Willamette Valley, which was notable for the deep-green fields of grass grown by the area's many seed farms. On non-rainy days (!) I could see the Cascade Mountains to the east and the lower hills of the Coast Range to the west. This poem gives some sense of my inner experience of this long commute - a blend of the beautiful and the tedious.

Why a picture of the roof of a cathedral in a poem about mountains, fields and sky? I'll let you reflect on it.

The picture for this post is of the ceiling in the Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, Spain. This building of this cathedral began in 1883 and was completed in 1993. Here's a brief but enjoyable video if you want to see more of the cathedral:

of the cathedral.

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