Driving North on I-79,
West Virginia
by Heather Mercer

Seventeen miles to home, night slips
beneath the highbeams and the gas station
coffee is nothing of great invention,
but I wanted to tell you anyway—
There have been advances in Styrofoam,
sugar substitute, though I still take mine
with some Robert Plant, his
hey, hey, mama,
lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time.

You are a straight shot across Ohio—
six hours—but I’m so damn impatient
these days waiting for
this to become that,
now to become later:  I didn’t notice
the magnolias blooming, the road
curving beneath me like a question mark.


Heather Mercer was born and raised in Ohio, and recently
finished her MFA in poetry at West Virginia University.  Her post-
graduate life has landed her in La Grande, Oregon, teaching
various writing courses at Eastern Oregon University.  Mercer’s
poems have been previously published in

On “Driving North on I-79, West Virginia”:
This poem emerged out of a simple desire to write a poem
about Robert Plant, and as all poems do, transformed into
something completely different.  This poem came from an
early spring night and the exhaustion that comes with a
nomadic existence.  At this period in my life, I was never sure
whether I was coming or going, and even if I was, it didn’t
seem to matter.  I was often comforted by small consistencies,
especially those of the open road.  This is a sonnet for the
pavement that connects us to where we think we want to be,
those roads that eventually feel like home, even if they don’t
always lead us there.

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 3, Number 2
(Fall 2008)

Copyright © 2008
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.