When I drive to my mother’s house I see six or seven
near the road, inconspicuous unless you know what
to look for. Unless you notice a dark vehicle stopped there.
But those are only six or seven. On a map there are
nearly two hundred more beyond where I can see.
Pack of missiles in a box of prairie. Grassland
around a small wire fence, around a graveled surface
around what looks like a cistern top
and a small vent pipe low to the ground.
It is quiet here, not much besides wind. The road I travel
has few cars. On a cold day, given ice on the road,
given the proclivity to slide, I could be stranded for hours,
which means nothing in comparison to missiles. By now
the land is used to them, almost. Once we grew past
the days when we saw flatbeds loaded
with cylindrical exteriors, once we got past knowing
they were going in, after some years of speculating
about the red phone in Moscow and the red phone
in Washington, and the lone watchers at the bottom
of each missile cavern, any one of whom
might someday set something off, the missiles became
the gun in the garage, the bullets in the basement,
almost hypothetical. Just the weapon
we walked around on our way to growing up.