Rock Springs

Richard Ford – Rock Springs

Someone asked me what I thought about while driving during our 79-day road trip this spring. Not much. But travelling through Wyoming, I was reminded of a short story that upon rereading when we returned home, wouldn’t let go of me until I forced it into this poem.

Rock Springs

Driving north from Flaming Gorge
a highway sign for Rock Springs
flashbacked me

to Earl, a stolen car,
a cranberry Mercedes,
its oil light

flashing red, dashboard warning.
“Rock Springs 30” read the sign
by the road.

It was thirty years ago
when I read a short story
called “Rock Springs”

in a book with the same name,
brilliantly conceived by
Richard Ford,

his characters so vivid
I see the three abandon
wheeled hope,

 Earl ponder his next move.
Did he steal the Pontiac,
drive away

in the middle of the night
and leave his lady and lone
young daughter?

Few authors pen good stories
about men like Earl who
can’t get by,

the passing lane always blocked
by bad luck, rocky roads or
no life map.

And don’t we readers prefer
happy storied streets to dark
rural roads?

“Would you think,” Earl asks us,
if you saw him in the dim
parking lot,

(it’s the story’s final line)
that “he was anybody
like you?


Ford, Richard. Rock Springs. USA: First Vintage Contemporaries Edition, 1988.

2 Responses

    1. If you’re not yet a fan of Richard Ford, try this early book of short stories by a writer who is both a southern gentleman and one who loves Saskatchewan for its duck hunting!

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