on the way to sacramento

On I-80 there are fields and fields of dull things.
Buildings, some husks, some bustling,
metal and brick and wood
loom or lurk. Auto dealerships yammer chrome.
Any chain store you never wanted chirps all-caps.

As we head east, Orion's belt brightens.
I don't remember when I learned to find him in the sky;
I don't remember liking stars overmuch as a child, and
I don't have a head for arbitrary points of light.

Still, like most things I've learned,
the name "Betelgeuse" surfaces,
a single leaf on the curb by the mall,
to be sifted out and tossed by the rain
with all its flame-colored friends
in the gutter, to the river, out of sight.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.