here's to the Great Expanse

here's to the Great Expanse

A Poem by Hannah Paige

stream of consciousness prose poetry


Everything feels faded and soft, like the whole world is lined with feathered edges.  Everything around me is the same but I am not, and I can’t be sure why.  I sleep a lot.  Everyone keeps asking me if something’s wrong, and though nothing is, maybe something should be. 

Everyone wants to escape, at least that’s the sense I get.  I want to escape.  If you stay anywhere long enough, the urge to leave will catch up to you.  That’s why I like road trips; you’re always leaving, even before you get anywhere.

We used to live in a town where no one wore shoes in the summer.  Our toes slapped the pavement as we skipped through the neighborhood; we were too young to drive.  The sun toasted our ears and our ankles, and we’d hold our breath as we stomped through the streets until we reached the grass and then we could breathe.

Some nights are so wide and so slow and so dark that they last forever.  They’re the nights that the streetlamps fade into the earth, swallowed by the charcoal blue of the midnight sky.  They’re the nights that make you feel homesick and homeless, the nights that remind you how old the world is and how young you’ll always be. 

Sometimes on the nights that last forever, I decide to drive away.  I pack my bags and I leave a note, but just as I hit the road, the sun starts to rise and sends me home.  I want to escape.

There’s something about home, I guess.  It’s something to do with knowing that the trees always look the same from the top of your favorite hill on a Sunday morning. Home is the evergreen in a forest of birch trees.

Something strange happened last night. I can’t remember what, but now I can’t stop thinking about trees and the sky and the color green.

When I was twelve years old, a white and gray horse named Dakota bucked me off of him and I fell into the sand.  He stopped and waited when he saw me on the ground.  When I got back on, we walked in slow circles. Dakota and I were both shaking, but neither of us wanted to run away anymore.

The problem with resolutions is that they teach us that every protagonist overcomes his flaw.  Maybe there are some flaws that stay with you forever.  It’s the passive ones, I think �" loneliness, emptiness, apathy �" that you can’t really shake off or teach away.  Indifference, or rather, unfounded sadness, eats away at you, breaks you, consumes you, becomes you. 

A borderline psychopath: someone who can feel just enough to resent his own apathy.  Someone who can care just enough to wish he could care more.

I imagine you’re lonely.  Mostly because everyone’s lonely, but also because I see it in your smile when there are other people around.  That’s the thing people don’t understand about loneliness; it’s worst with other people around. 

Writing poems used to be easy.  The words, the phrases, used to fall from my fingers and I could only guess what they meant.  I think too much for that now.  I am acutely aware that every word must mean something, and I am too young, too afraid, to take on the responsibility.

It’s hard to sit still at night.  The curtains on my windows are always closed, and my room is sticky and dull.  I wonder about the people I used to know; I wonder if they’ve changed or if I have. 

I’m going to drive away tonight.  I hope this letter finds you well.  I hope you don’t worry. 

I’m heading towards the Grand Canyon, or the desert, or the ocean.  I’m stealing a pick up truck and playing country music on the radio.  I’m taking back roads.  I’ll be stopping every few hours to take a picture, buy a postcard, remember you. 


They call this the Great Expanse.  Nights, here, don’t close you in but set you free.  You’d be happy here, I think, for a while at least. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?  An escapist.  An artist.  Is there a difference?

I wanted to stay here forever, but I’m down to my last quarter [and the meter’s running low.]  There’s a road ahead of me, unpaved, unmarked, untouched �" waiting.  There’s a barn in the distance that reminds me of home.  I’ll write you a letter because I’m out of postcards.

Darling, it begins, I miss you often.  I feel now, that home is ahead of me, though you are behind.

I cry now, more than I used to, but I’m glad for it.  I’m headed west, I think.  I don’t have a compass but “west” feels good to say, and anyway, I’m pretty sure you’ll end up west from any direction if you drive long enough. 

I feel closer to you now than I have in a long time.  I don’t know where you are, but I keep writing letters because I like to imagine how you might read them.  Are you still lonely?  I am, sometimes, but I’m searching for the cure. 

Define “radical” �" Radical, adj. 1) very basic and important; fundamental. 2) very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary; extreme. 3) existing inherently in a thing or person.

Radical, adj. A word that means both fundamental and new, traditional and innovative… a word defined by contradictions, which at the same time claims to define its subject, to live inherently in every person or thing.

Name something “radical” �" rain, love, home, the Great Expanse.


© 2015 Hannah Paige

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Added on July 19, 2015
Last Updated on July 19, 2015


Hannah Paige
Hannah Paige


I'm in film school at NYU. I like to write and make movies. I took some good music and put it here: more..

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