Telephone Poles

Like our cars, which have our faces,
and our houses, which look down
on us under their folded hats,

these resemble us, though nothing
we have made seems so steadfast.
Exiled to the roadside,

they stand in all weather, ignored
except for the rows of swallows
that remember them in springtime,

and the occasional tree holding up
a hole workmen have cut
to let the lines through. Yet they go on

balancing cables on their shoulders
and passing them to the next
and the next, this one extending

a wire to a farmhouse, that one
at the corner sending lines
four ways at once, until miles

away where the road widens,
and the tallest poles rise,
bearing streetlamps high above

the doors of the town, arriving
by going nowhere at all, each,
like the others that brought them here,

making its way by accepting
what’s given, and holding on,
and standing still.

Explore an earlier version of this poem through a question about craft.

Hear Wes McNair read this poem.