Gail Haruko Yamauchi


Speed across the state line one night when the moon has chased

away the stars.

The road narrows, yellow lines disappear.

Red watertight barns give way to grey weathered ones that could tell you stories.

Trim white fences of Ohio give way

to sparse, loose lines of barbed wire in Franklin County, Indiana.


Ride free and smell the sweet green air.

See no one for forty, fifty minutes, then a blast of pickup-truck high-beams.

In the dark no one can see the color of your skin, the shape of your eyes.


Only the moon watches a car as it speeds down long roads cut straight

as if by the hand of God and His divine T-square, or hugs sharp curves

unmarked by any sign

because if you're out here at night

you best know where you're going.


No one comes out here from Butler County, not at night.

Just me

hoping the car doesn't break down in Brookville

where people say the last Black family got chased out, years ago

by the same Klan that marched through my town in 1991.


Still.  No one's ever said boo to me here, never told me to go back

where I came from

not meaning Ohio

never pulled their eyes into slits and said ching-chong-chopsuey.

Keep driving and no one will have the chance.  The night sky reaches

from the far island of trees over the sea of corn and soy to the next island

of brave branches and leaves that hold back the wind,

black combs against the softer black of the sky.

Darkest Indiana is the most gorgeous place I know.


Speed across the state line late on a moonless starry night.

Turn off the headlights and drive into grey monochrome

seeing with the rods of your eyeballs.

Pull the car off the shoulder

lie on the hot trunk and try to find black space between the diamond pinpricks.

Stare long enough and you always find a new star

where you thought there was nothing.


Darkest Indiana is the richest place I know

and a mouthful of dirt can taste so sweet.

Gail Haruko Yamauchi grew up in Southwestern Ohio four miles from the Indiana border.  She has received a New York Foundation for the Arts

Fellowship in Non-fiction Literature and an MFA from the New School

program in creative writing.  "Interloper" is her first published