Sunday, 13 March 2016

all the way back from mile zero

sometimes I dream - or remember -
in front of the mile zero sign in beacon hill: end of the canadian road,
the children arguing - still - after the stress-Stress-STRESS road trip
and I walk back to the car - and slam the door BAM
and think:  all the way back from mile zero

sometimes I dream - or remember - a monday, I think it was

the door shut softly . . . sometimes I imagine that I heard it slam - BAM -
but it didn't - I slammed it in my mind - over and over:
job gone, home gone, all stability gone BAM BAM BAM
after that, I slammed it - whenever I slept

I'd slam the door; then I'd wake up - awash in angst, lost in where I'd been

and slowly remember - my dream:  I'm running away - 
I run through a door - and slam it behind me - my heart
pounding like a drum - BOOM-BOOM BOOM-BOOM
BOOM-BOOM:  all the way back from mile zero

that day - a monday, I think it was,

when we both turned a thousand -
sudden shock at how mean the world can be
and the long trek began -
all the way back from mile zero

I still run in my dreams ...
but lately, many miles from there and that day,
I run easily, lazily - you might say -
I run to the door and you're standing there ...
you've gone on ahead - you're waiting for me - I made it back ...

two times I made it all the way back . . . the second time was much much harder

notes:  posted for "Poets United".

This poem was written many years ago, in consequence of a life altering, job loss as a result of workplace budget cuts ... a scenario that has become all too commonplace, for workers today.  It is devastatingthe ramifications lasting for years.  Those who have endured it, may climb back on to their feet (some do not) but the world in never quite the same (for employees AND their families) after being"downsized".

Mile "0" in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC is the western terminus, of the 8,000 kilometre Trans-Canada Highway and is a popular tourist stop.  The 2nd line of the poem refers to a memory of mine:  driving thousands of miles across Canada (our four children all seemed to arrive at that "what-about-what- I-want-stage", at the same time, when everything was cause for, yet another, argument).  Sometime after that trip our lives were turned upside down through job loss.  Often, in my dreams, during that period, the two events got muddled together.   

photo:  All the Way Back from Mile Zero - W. Bourke

© 2012 (from lines jotted down in 1995) Wendy Bourke


  1. This is so powerful....the repetition and the use of the words slammed, slam, bam, boomed....really effective!

  2. the sense of frustration, all in the sound of that door. And that monday morning feeling.

  3. This is so strong, when events collide to create a turning point of sort. The slammed door, the job lost. Life can seem to unite against us, and it scars us...

  4. These life altering events haunt our dreams...I know they do mine. And then they become a perfect muse for incredibly powerful poems like this one Wendy. I have felt that door slamming, and miraculously have been able to land on my feet with another job. My husband has not been so lucky.

    1. After job loss, it takes a long time to get some sense of equilibrium. My husband and I will never get back to the comfort of where we were and what we had, when it happened. But one does learn to cope, to find your peace and pleasure in simplicity and develop a good perspective (and often, an unconventional sense of humor). There is, indeed, serenity in accepting: those things we cannot change. Peace and joy be with you and your family, Donna.

  5. It is indeed very sad to lose a job, but with grit one is back, and you have done a great job!

  6. Oh, this is so powerfully written..its difficult to cope with losing a job. But we always manage to come back stronger than ever.

    Lots of love,

  7. I could ponder the tile and concept of 'all the way back from mile zero' which i guess is the feeling in itself.. slamming the door can be both good and bad i suppose depending on if we are shutting something out or being shut out - so much to ponder and relate to in these strong words..

  8. I can feel the frustration AND the pain in your poem! The details -- the slamming doors, the running-- really make me FEEL your poem, rather than just reading the words! Glad you have made your way back.....

  9. there is so much emotion and angst in the poem, the sound words adding another dimension to the frustration. this is a great & powerful piece of writing.
    a road trip helps, but it is the people who matters that will heal.

  10. Wendy this is powerful. The depth of the life-changing event is felt throughout by the repetition of loud words. There is such deep feeling in this.

  11. Yes... the sound in your words and the movement was perfect.

  12. The sounds of BAM are pretty jarring and creates tension and frustration ~ Sorry this happened to you and I am happy that you are able to learn from it and go on ~ Have a good week and enjoy the warming weather ~

  13. Perfectly written the emotions strongly felt, perfect description of the situation.

  14. A most interesting and poignant poem about doors.

    I love these bits in particular:
    "a monday, I think it was the door shut softly"

    "two times I made it all the way back . . . the second time was much much harder"

  15. I know how it feels
    I have gone through it . Happy finding your page

  16. I felt this, Wendy. Job, home, stability being gone--wow, what an incredibly stressful and life-changing event. The slamming of the door seems like a small pushback for relief midst chaos. I like your perspective--finding contentment and a keeping a sense of humor through trials is admirable!