We drive all day to a new town and find it
at dusk, not empty but dead.
The agonized litter the streets, sprawl in yards, gape
at the purpling sky.
Having arrived too late again, this boy and I
drive through and beyond, and after sunset build a fire.
He dances, I strum my guitar,
this straw-haired boy I found days ago on the side of the road
dances to the few songs I know all the way through.
We camp not far from the empty highway but no cars drive by.
The fire shines orange in his eyes and stays there
even through the day that follows
when we are too late
and find another quiet stinking town.
Always heading east, he urges me on every day.
His yellow hair blown back, the top down,
we sing since we can't find a radio station.
I can't call her and tell her I am on the way.
The phone system, like everything else, has broken down.
But we get nearer day by day.
"It's a bug, a virus. Something old, so old,"
he answers as we kick sand into the embers.
Flames color his eyes still.
We will be too late again, I say.
Man, we don't race the disease.
We push it on ahead of us."
We move east.
I wish I could call her.