Ode to a Motorway Rest Stop
“Be back at the coach at 1:30.”
We disembark like the Peabody ducks,
down the red carpet to the fountain
crowned with so many flowers—
the motorway rest stop, temporary oasis
from the freezing coach with sometimes
whistling window and sudden stop.
Some wander from the coach
bleary eyed, stretching their arms and yawning.
Others stride with Ryken-like purpose;
the last motivational song from their iPod
pulsing through their heads
leads them on the quest for food.
more around a corner, a field of toilets,
a pleasant reminder of American efficiency,
like O’Hare or Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport.
A digital countdown reads “40 minutes till next cleaning”
and informs us of the sex of the attendant.
moving among the different sections like locusts
or birds of prey, hunting the cheapest, fastest,
and best tasting. WH Smith, £3.99 for a sandwich,
eight American dollars for a prawn sandwich
that slides down the throat like a raw egg.
We circle Wimpy, Burger King, KFC, Road Chef,
Eat In, Costa Coffee and land at various small,
wooden tables displaying our purchases,
sandwiches, bags of sweets, cokes,
coffee, prepackaged cold pasta dishes,
some with only cheese. This is the beauty
of the motorway rest stop: its ability to morph
time so that no matter how long we have circled,
it feels like no time at all, and no matter how long
we have sat talking, we would like to sit more
among the Hawiian printed lawn chairs and
unnecessary waterproof rain cloaks.
We have entered the world of rest stop.
look back, wondering if we should have bought
the coke in spite of its price, feel sorry for the stragglers
who do not get to participate in the count off,
or perhaps forget the departure time altogether
and become a straggler to be escorted away by Dr. Ryken.
Sometimes we cannot help being late because
we cannot find the trashcan. Has anyone seen a trashcan?
Is there a trashcan? No. There is no trashcan.
Oh, rest from the road, from the whistling,
from the freezing a/c or glaring sun,
and the late program silence in the coach.
You force us together in our search
for cheap sweets and meal time conversation.
We leave you refreshed and ready for the next
leg of journey. We board the coach, leftover
conquests in hand, offering purple gummy
worms all around, seven pounds lighter.