Willie McCovey has long believed that
The cartographers are blind to possibility.
Their learned embroideries bring out
The interstates, the arterial highways with
The color of the northern cardinal in nesting season.
The remainder they leave to less arresting hues.
Yet it is through and over those sweeps of
Castleton green and the brown of owls and silt that
Bespeak the dead corridors lost to wild briars or the
Unfinished symphony that is every dirt road that
Willie McCovey makes it from here to anyplace else
In no more than two hours and 48 minutes.
Anyplace, not anywhere.
He put galvanized steel body panels on his Seville and
Added the tailfins from a ‘59 El Dorado.
His chronic detours demanded no less.
He could not make it from Mobile to California
In two hours and 48 minutes if he didn’t
Guide that Cadillac straight through the woods when
Highway 98 curved north just beyond
Wilmer and Big Creek Lake.
The V-8 would’ve hummed less surely along
Silopanna Road and perhaps even buckled under
The weight of what was asked of it had
Willie McCovey not provisioned it with a home-cooked
Fuel injection system using a bovine inseminator
And boiling-hot instant coffee.
When he can no longer parry sleep,
He ramps off the nearest levee onto
The top of a passing boxcar on the
Kansas City Southern Railway.
The map is not the territory, he whispers during
The furthest reaches of that four-minute nap
He takes up there. Locomotive engineers and
Deputized pastors have agreed that
This is no call for outlawry,
At least when Willie McCovey does it.
When plowing through a barbed wire fence,
He dodges the upright rebar rods. Instead,
He aims for the corner post of black locust lumber,
Which ensures the Cadillac will have berth enough.
His front plates brand “WM 44” backwards on
The snapped fence post. As he crosses the pasture,
He affixes a crisp $100 bill to a fishing sinker and
Tosses it out the window to cover the damage.
If it can take a striped bass rig to the bottom of
The Tombigbee, then it can pin a century note to the
Soil until the inconvenienced farmer happens upon it.
“Willie had to be someplace, I reckon,” he’ll say while
Tucking the bill into the chest pocket of his overalls.
Someplace, not somewhere.
If the miles ahead of him require it, Willie McCovey
Will cut through a country cemetery —
Respectfully on two wheels, of course,
And take care to doff his Lundberg stetson as he
Slaloms among the headstones.
He’ll barge a swath through a field of
Harvest-ready corn, and no one will raise a cry because
Willie McCovey has adjusted those tailfins to
Turn out a breeze that will detassel corn for a
Quarter acre on each side.
In places where there are no such birds, they do not say,
As the crow flies. Rather, as Willie McCovey drives
Is their testimony to unswerving forces.
He prefers all four windows rolled down, as
He likes it when the twigs of shade trees invade
The cabin to stroke his face and urge him onward.
In deep winter, when the chill is too much,
Those windows fog with yearning. The A.M. radio
Crackles as he caroms off frozen haystacks.
Now he has arrived at this someplace in
No more than two hours and 48 minutes.
He parks the Caddy vertically in a grain elevator,
Front end pointed toward what we mistake for heaven.
The harvest, blood, new, and gibbous moons
That lit his way for the last 30 minutes and
Six hundred miles nod approvingly.
“It shall be all right,” Willie McCovey says to them.
“Well,” the four moons correct him. “It shall be.”
“All right,” says Willie McCovey.