Every day I ride a tide of gasoline
down route 539
home to work
and every day I ride it back
up route 539
work to home.
My foot on the accelerator is a moon
marshaling the ebb and flow
that washes away the hills
and drowns the declines
along route 539.
I ride in a line with other commuters — body surfers, single-file, lap-lane-style
kept dry in wet-suits made by
Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet,
Toyota, and Honda too.
We carved this valley through the pines,
for route 539.
People tell me it’s a road
but I know better.
One bright day, after the snow, I saw a great white yacht marked
“WIDE LOAD” getting towed
on route 539
River Styx to squirrel and deer and human
before their time
crossing route 539.
Ever since I saw that yacht
turn hard-a-starboard, bear its keel
into the icy horizon, beyond the trees
I’ve been flicking my eyes at the rear-view mirror
waiting for a freak-wave
to swallow me
and cast me into the haunted wood
that was vivisected
by route 539.
And when I wake — if I wake — who knows what awaits me there?
We’ve all heard of that Jersey devil
for some reason
I keep imagining a lost field
of tall winter wheat
hidden by the rocking evergreens
where I would lay like a snow-angel
beneath the wind
of route 539.
Micah Langer grew up in Princeton Junction. After eight years playing music and studying French and Yiddish translation in Montreal, Quebec, he is back in New Jersey. He works for a handyman and is learning to become a carpenter.