Whitehall, Montana

Population: Obstinate

In the family of gateway towns
north of Yellowstone National Park
Whitehall rightly self-identifies
as the neglected youngest brother.

And so it aims to capture its share
of the so-called “attention economy”
via emulation of a black widow’s web:
though the main drag-cum-Hwys 2/69

parallels the nearby Interstate 90
and is devilishly named Legion Ave
the web’s denizens are none too eager
to help you find the freeway interchange.

Eastbound, just one tiny shield denotes
proximity to The Mighty Eye-Ninety
implying it to be of equal unimportance
to the lowly state routes 2 and 69.

When you miss that twilit signpost up ahead
and venture 400 yards back through town
there is no westbound mention of 90 at all.
Instead the actual signage is grotesquely legion:

a quixotic advice of junction with route 55
which appears as nothing so much as a notice
permitting drivers to speed through town
immediately followed by a visual warning

of a first-responder vehicle crossing
and an anachronistic sidewall mural
of a paradoxically flag-draped stereotype
corner-cigar-store wooden Indian.

Signs all, indeed, but signs of other things
than the type of deliverance you seek.

The other web, the world-wide one,
may be your only virtual salvation.
You ponder pausing to geolocate
that the goldurn Google bot may intone

At the next completely unmarked intersection
turn right and get the hell out of this dodge.

But not you.


You, too, are as pigheaded as dried eggyolk.
No third tour of this bait ‘n’ switch for you.
Cursing, you shake the dust off your Toyos
to leave behind the tawdry seduction of 69

and the Legion of Literally Pointless Signage.
You keep rolling, wishing you could drive 55
past the junction with the foretold 55 South.
Then beyond the junction with Highway 41

(which had the good sense to completely avoid
any connection at all with Whitehall, Montana)
and I-90 fully forsaken, you accelerate westbound
on trusty ol’ Number 2, as excremental an option

as that might have seemed twenty minutes earlier.
“Yes, I am perfectly sure,” you testily assert
to hitherto slumbering and now-flummoxed fam
“this route will lead us directly to Butte.”

And there’s not a damned thing in this world
Whitehall—or Montana—can do to stop you now.

About Greg Wright

I have worn many hats as a writer and editor over the years. Unlike my scholarly and journalistic work from the "old days" at Hollywood Jesus, Past the Popcorn, or SeaTac Blog, the writing here is of a more overtly personal and spiritual nature. I hope it provokes you as much as it provokes me.
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