Retired descendents of stolid Swedes tilled fertile cropland

in Nebraska. Now in a Winnebago caravan of Kiwanis club

cronies they head for Alaska on the longest day of the year.

The sun hangs high in the sky floating like a hot air balloon.

She wakes up chirping melodies, an elated warbler all day long.

He’s an unsmiling workhorse who never learned to breathe.

His unhappiness is constant.

With nothing much to say he keeps spectacled eyes on the road,

a gold jade ring glinting in the sun, left to him by uncle Olaf,

who left for work in Okinawa, never to return.

He counts cost of miles per-gallon, fulminating in a bilious rage

he curses turbaned profiteers.

Holding a triple-A trip-ticket in hand, she navigates,

fingernails painted fire engine red,

prattling on about clothes she’s wearing,

or going to wear, worrying about what’s in style

and the loss of her youthful figure.

“How many months pregnant do I look now?”

Unable to sleep at night, she redecorates the house,

imagining subtle pastels for bedroom walls,

lavish color schemes for the parlor and other tired-looking rooms.

Eager to learn what he thinks, she begs him to communicate.

He’s lost in a reverie of myriad ways to fornicate

with nymphettes he’s seen in Sears underwear ads.

He nods his head and grunts as if listening

but can no longer hear most of what’s said.

With professional dexterity, he keeps the rig steady on course.

Knobby fingers grip the wheel, as if he’s still plowing

the straightest furrows in Lincoln County.

They rumble through the Rockies, arrive in Cheyenne in a blue twilight haze.

Settled in Walmart’s parking lot, under a lurid glare of gaseous green light

she sings, “Always On My Mind” while liver and onions sizzle on the stove,

sure to please him, she hopes.

She sets up a card table with gravlax and Aquavit,

tapered white candles illuminate faces invited in for Gin Rummy.

Everyone is beautiful.

Under western stars yawning card players blow smoke rings to stay awake.

She reminds him that it’s not so hard to be happy.

Cigarettes spark the darkness like sudden bursts of fireflies that die without a trace.