When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road somewhere along the way. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project.
I left stanza four on a 3-D parakeet postcard I’d brought with me for writing to friends during the trip. I wrote the poem on the back and then perched the card in a bush next to the vending machines at an Indiana rest stop on I-65 S on our way back home from Chicago. If we didn’t still have five hours of driving ahead of us, I would have waited in the car until someone found it. Instead, I like to imagine all the different people that might stumble upon it- a little girl on the way to the bathroom, an middle-aged guy buying a Pepsi, a group of teenagers on their first road trip…
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever
I go, I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.)