People & Place

The day is a woman who loves you. Open.

Deer drink close to the road and magpies

spray from your car.  Miles from any town

your radio comes in strong, unlikely

Mozart from Belgrade, rock and roll

from Butte.  Whatever the next number,

you want to hear it.  Never has your Buick

found this forward a gear.  Even 

the tuna salad in Reedpoint is good.


Towns arrive ahead of imagined schedule.

Absorakee at one.  Or arrive so late—

Silesia at nine—you recreate the day.

Where did you stop along the road

and have fun? Was there a runaway horse?

Did you park at that house, the one

alone in a void of grain, white with green

trim and red fence, where you know you lived

once?  You remembered the ringing creek,

the soft brown forms of far off bison.

You must have stayed hours, then drove on.

In the motel you know you’d never seen it before.


Tomorrow will open again, the sky wide

as the mouth of a wild girl, friable 

clouds you lose yourself to.  You are lost

in miles of land without people, without

one fear of being found, in the dash 

of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl

merge and clatter of streams.


~ Richard Hugo, 1923-82, was professor of English at University of Montana for almost 20 years.  Much loved and respected, he authored numerous books of poetry and prose. His honors included a fellowship from the American Academy of Poets and National Book Award nominations for The Lady in the Kicking Horse Reservoir and What Thou Lovest Well Remains American.  This poem is reprinted from Selected Poems by Richard Hugo.  Copyright ©1979 by Richard Hugo.  Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.