After Viewing Kerouacís Original Scroll
by Christine Swanberg

Like a relic preserved in a catacomb
the long brown scroll unfurls under glass
in the darkened room, highlighted
by modern lights, On the Road stretches,
furled at the end like an ancient script.
Long before we went to Woodstock,
long before we went roaming the world,
long before a gypsy violin sang
the Siren lure to any-place-but-here, Jack,
you were tapping the keys,
manic and filled
with the existential joy of leaving
and remembering.
Looking at this scroll today, canít help feel
we owe you something, Mr. Kerouac:
muse, inspiration, neurotic Mamaís boy,
complicated soul, delirious and desperate.
You taught us how to leave—
and to remember.
You showed us how to savor the dark wind,
the dark angel of that place
between youth and old age—
the place something you didnít make it to.
For us who grew older
than we ever thought we could be,
leaving doesnít seem so easy,
and as another poet said,
the tribes have scattered.
Leaving seems unkind now
that home fires burn steady
and the treasure chest is full.
Still, sometimes we pack our bags again,
hit the road, the bridge, the tunnel leading
somewhere new, somewhere else.
Like you, we remain misunderstood,
here where everyone thinks
they own the light and the light is all there is.
But we know it isnít so,
donít we, Jack Kerouac?

First published in CHIRON REVIEW, 2017.

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