by Sue Mayfield Geiger
They seldom come by anymore—
travelers needing to rest,
park their weary backsides on our benches,
spread out a feast of fried chicken,
bottles of Dr. Pepper and Delaware Punch,
all sweaty from being in the cooler.
Air-conditioned cars and the Interstate
did us in.
But a few of us still exist; you just have
to do a little research to find us.
Like, if you get off the highway and take
a back road, you could very well stumble by.
But look carefully because some of us
are hidden behind weeds and crumbling concrete.
You could possibly see a marker letting you know that
you’ve stopped at an historical spot.
Yet, we are slowly deteriorating; no funds to maintain
our woeful facades.
Green algae is growing on our quarried stone
and the grates atop our fire pits are rusty and crumbling.
Mighty timbers were felled to provide overhead canopies;
many still stand, waiting to shelter occupants
that rarely drop by. Yet, they are missing out on
the best picnic of their lives!
We were important once—your grandparents can tell you
how we offered them respite from the road.
Come back to a time when travel was unhurried and genteel
and roadside parks were here for you.
Just like the paper road maps that got you across
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, the West and East Coasts.
We live in that same boneyard. But some of us are still
around, and we’ll gladly take you in.
PHOTO: Roadside park near Timpson, Shelby County, Texas. Photo by Lord Walt, used by permission.
NOTE ON THE POEM: We are little offbeat gems that are still around—roadside parks. We are amused at younger generations that stop by out of curiosity, make frowns, kick at our aging structures and haul ass. We snicker to ourselves, as they speed away with technology at their fingertips, and the trees give us a wink.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sue Mayfield Geiger is a freelance magazine writer living on the Texas Gulf Coast. When not writing about home décor, fashion, or a new restaurant opening, she reads and writes poetry. Her literary publications include Grayson Books, RiverLit, Dos Gatos Press, The Binnacle (U of Maine), Of Burgers and Barrooms (Main Street Rag), Red Wolf Journal, Waco WordFest Anthology, Perfume River Poetry, THEMA, Silver Birch Press, and forthcoming in Odes and Elegies: Eco poetry from the Gulf Coast, and others.