Route 598

Route 598 in rural Ohio is beautiful, and brutal, in winter. The field sparrows scrape the gravel of the berm looking for kernels of corn the grain trucks spilled on the way to the silos. Occasionally a harrier hawk will interrupt with a starved search of her own.

The dilapidated human dwellings illustrate how desperate life is on 598. A man repairs lawn mowers whose handles grow from the tall weeds in his own neglected yard. A woman in tattered flannel runs a wildlife rescue, but just barely. A tractor and combine recycling center is where farmer’s dreams go to die.

Snow-covered fields are acres of blank canvas waiting for Easter’s forgiving hues, but spring will have to wait her turn. The stubble of last season’s corn protrudes through the snow like a staccato lesson in what has been and what could be.

The rusted plow metered out the lines that are the staff and stuff of life. The thin indentations mimic the sunken ribs of the deer in the woods. Each telephone pole is a memorial to need.

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