Silent White

This morning we left home quite early and drove through remote farmland. The sky was beautiful and bright with stars. Then ahead of us we could see a low-lying, long black cloud – pitch black. We both commented on it and wondered what it was. Further along the road we entered extremely dense fog forcing Nigel to slow right down. We could barely see even those huge yellow road signs that warn about tight bends. Then we came to Raes Junction which is a major T-intersection. There’s nothing there except an old hotel building (privately owned and no longer a hotel) and a group of those sodium streetlights – the sort that used to glow bright yellow-orange when I was a kid but now glow an odd pinky-salmon colour. In the foggy light the intersection and streetlights looked most surreal! And there was a profound sense of silent solitude as we stopped to check the empty highway before making our turn.

As I chatted to Nigel about my fond memories of rural road intersections lit at night by sodium lights he pondered whether I might make a poem about it. Seemed a good idea so right there in the car in about 10 minutes I composed this little haiku and spoke it to him, and thought I’d share it with you 🙂


a-car-on-asphalt-road-3593924
Photo by Gabriel Hohol from Pexels

sodium lights glow

still, foggy, intersection

middle of nowhere

— haiku by Liz Cowburn

this haiku is about Raes Junction, West Otago on a foggy morning but also celebrates a particular rural highway intersection I remember from when I was a little kid. There was nothing at all at the intersection, just a very wide road with the turn-off that we’d take, and the whole scene floodlit by the glow of lots of yellow sodium streetlights. New Zealand.


haiku by Liz; Exploring Colour (2020)

18 thoughts on “Silent White

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  1. I’ve always loved a foggy night, not perhaps to drive in, but how different everything looks. There’s a small city that I’ve driven through many times, going to Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, or NYC. It’s down in a valley where the Chenango and Susquehanna rivers meet, and is sometimes foggy. And two major highways meet there too, so lots of bridges, lots of highway intersections, lots of tremendously tall streetlights – always a marker, that I was two hours from home. I like your poem, and your post!

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    1. What a lovely reward you’ve offered me in this response, I enjoyed it so much. The river names sound amazing to my unaccustomed ears and you’ve set the scene so well. Please tell me the name of this small city – I’d like to look up some photos!

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      1. Oh, how nice, I’m glad you enjoyed that memory, which was triggered by your post of course. But I have to tell you, the town isn’t very photogenic, in fact, pretty dull and not too prosperous these days. Binghamton. It’s not very big, but they sometimes call that area “The Triple Cities” because it’s mushed together with Johnson City and Endicott, which are really just villages, not cities at all. The only interesting thing I can think of, is that Endicott was a “company town,” I don’t know if they ever had those in NZ. The houses, churches, library, etc. were all built for workers by the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, which had 20k workers at its height. IBM and G.E. also were big employers, and pretty much all of them are closed now, and it’s still in the process of recovering and transforming. They do have a very good state university there.

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        1. I’m not aware of any company towns in NZ. The closest would be back in the day when railways were in their heyday and railway houses were provided for workers. Electricity and Forestry have both required accommodation for workers on big projects but those were usually temporary and more akin to huts than houses.

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  2. I have some of those wide road/turnoff memories in the middle of nowhere, too. Riding, unsecured of course, in the back seat traveling in the dark back from the grandparents. Thanks for the memory, I felt like I was there with you.

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