Dr. Mathews, who teaches writing at Georgia’s Dalton State College, begins the collection with “Grasshopper,” a pensive look back at a childhood memory that foreshadows the oncoming storms she would come to face. With the doors to her emotional journey thrown open, she takes the reader by the hand as she shares her times of joy, loss and despair before discovering the acceptance of the travails of life.

The honesty that she employs is both refreshing and heartbreaking as she takes us through the breakup of her marriage—and escape—through the heavy hanging sadness of her father’s death.

In “Breakdown” she writes, “At the pool, troubles float. I sit back & forget our U-Haul trailer, everything we own that wasn’t his in the weeds beside the Interstate.” You can almost see the shimmering waves of heat refracting the eighteen-wheelers on the nearby interstate as she ponders both her past and her destiny, while her daughters splash happily in the Super Saver Motel’s tiny pool.

As her journey progresses through the book’s poetry, the reader is comforted in the fact that there is, indeed, an ultimate treasure that makes the tears, struggles and breakdowns somehow worth the effort of continuing down all the interstates, highways and dirt roads. The glittering destination that Dr. Mathews finds and shares with her readers is the culmination of the little victories that she has managed to gather over the course of the journey—the little jewel that is Northbound Single-Lane.

—David Ray Skinner

Clearwater, Florida

When I was ten,
I sneaked a hypodermic needle
from my mother’s nursing bag,
filled it with red food coloring.

I went out on the back porch,
got the mayonnaise jar,
unscrewed the lid, slowly,
so I could get my hand in
to grab the grasshopper.

I injected him.

His straw color turned
the color of a tangerine
& every bit as radiant.
I ached for something
to inject myself with
to make me shine.

I took the grasshopper
to the meadow
back behind the creek,
& watched him hop away,
robbed of natural protection.
Same way lipstick and high heels
later did me in.

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©Copyright 2012 Bridgital/SouthernReader. All rights reserved.