Highway 341 is a generally north-south road in Baxter County in north central Arkansas. Its approximately 34 miles of length (with extensions) meander in the Arkansas Ozarks. The highway is also known as Push Mountain Road, and that’s the title poet Pat Durmon has given to her latest collection of poetry – Push Mountain Road (which certainly sounds more interesting, and poetic, than Highway 341).
Comprised of 118 poems (and one introductory poem), the collection is a celebration – of people, nature, relationships, the everyday, the small things (like making the crust for a quiche), and the larger things (like sitting in a radiation waiting room). Durmon combines an almost childlike wonder with the wisdom gained through a lifetime of experience.
In this poem, an observation about the declining afternoon light becomes something much more:
a spider quilting
between porch rails
a wood-wild road
up the mountain
a herd of deer
where they cross
to go down to the river
and catch grace
It is that “something much more” that characterizes Durmon’s poems. And the poem cover the landscape that’s extends outward from Push Mountain Road – the small towns, the people, the trees and streams, animals in the forests, the mountains and the seasons.
Durmon is the author of Light and Shadows in a Nursing Home: Poems and Blind Curves. Her poems have been published in such journals as Rattle, Main Street Rag, Poetry East, Cyclamens and Blades, Between the Lines, and Lucidity. A former teacher and now retired mental health counselor, she currently facilitates two support groups.
The poems of Push Mountain Road are the poems of rest and refreshment, a place to come to and abide as the world’s craziness swirls around.
Top photograph: Little Red River in the Arkansas Ozarks, via Arkansas.com.