(Inspired by) Exit 275

Coming in through the exit doors
Of Green Acres Bowling Alley
Momma says this will be fun,
But how will Nana bowl bow-legged?

There’s history in this big long shack–
Nana’s parents were on leagues in the 60’s and
Nana was here in ’64 when the roof was blown up
And away in a touch down tornado on I-70

Scruffy man behind the counter says, “We’re all full up.”
What?!  No bowling and not even a tornado!
We turn to leave and Nana whispers to momma,
“Oh God, look who’s here.”

“Let’s go say hi,” Momma heads over to the
Old lady dining alone at a table against a wall
The lonely woman squints in disbelief,
“Land sakes! You looked familiar–but

I meet so many nice travelers here.”
Nana is tight-lipped and clutches her purse on her lap
A white napkin catches crumbs on the lady’s legs
After “How are you?” there comes a steady stream

Of words the old woman must have been saving up
To tell no one in particular who would pull up a chair
She divides her mashed potatoes with a fork
Swallowing packed igloo cubes after asking about Papa

She tells us the aproned waitress is like family and
As if by cue, sweet Amy brings coffee and dessert
Lies are concealed in laundered linen napkins
And no cares as long as the bill gets paid

Here we sit–four generations of women
Staring uneasily at each other like
Happenstance strangers flung together
In this roadside room off Exit 275

We leave my great-grandmother, Ilene Ross,
Buttering her roll, adding strawberry jam
As we walk out the same doors we entered
Not one of us daring to look back

It was kind of like a twister I guess with
Kansas westerly winds blowing us in and out
Of each other’s dark and bright lives
In an unnatural mix of hellos and goodbyes

This lasted maybe 30 minutes or so


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