Soft Shoulder

reads the sign on the 99.
The sky’s a thirsty violet
and fields of bleached stubble
extend on either side,
and now there’s no shoulder
at all for so long
that although we don’t speak of it
we both feel stalked
by a narrowing
that starts on the road
then moves inside
to the car’s stale air
and further inside to our arteries,
capillaries, thread-bare
yearnings, the idea
of self at last so narrow,
so compressed
all that’s left is a buzz
or wave of sound
or light that meets the pulsing
in an exchange
we will never speak of
because we won’t know how
before the construction ends
and the road widens.

Listen to this poem:

Soft Shoulder, A Poem by Catherine Abbey Hodges


About Author


Catherine Abbey Hodges’s most recent collection of poems is Raft of Days. Dan Gerber selected her first full-length collection, Instead of Sadness, as winner of the 2015 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize from Gunpowder Press. Her poems have appeared widely and been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Verse Daily. Co-coordinator of California Poets in the Schools for Tulare County, Catherine collaborates with her husband, cellist Rob Hodges, and was named 2017 faculty of the year at Porterville College, where her students keep her awake and amazed.

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