“How to Walk Down a Country Road” by Felicia Mitchell

F.Mitchell 2004

One.  You don’t really need a guide to help
You find the way.
Just follow all the doves
That gather on the wires until you see
No more. Then you will know you’ve gone so far
There are no wires or houses.  Two. Avoid
Advice that says to face the traffic when
You’re on a curve.  Look at those doves.
They know
The difference between life and death is not
As easy as all that.  It takes some sense
To cross the road when cars are tumbling down
Like cold, white water with no place for you
To navigate.
Three. Lose the road. You don’t
Know country roads until you’ve stepped aside
Into somebody’s pasture or a stream
With rocks as smooth as wings on doves-or stopped
Beneath an apple tree and eaten one
To prove you could survive in nature if
You really had to.  Four. Turn back before
Your time runs out.  Five.  The doves may look
As if they’re watching over you.  They’re not.
The crows aren’t either.  Not the cows, the leaves,
The lines on asphalt separating gray
From gray.  You’re on your own.  Find your way home
Alone and then you’ll know exactly what
It’s like to walk right down a country road.



Felicia Mitchell teaches creative writing at Emory & Henry College.  Her poems appear regularly in journals such as Terrain, Many Mountains Moving, and Survivor, and are found in a few anthologies and chapbooks. Many of her poems touch on issues of abuse and the theme of psychological survival.