Beate Conrad

Beate Conrad is of German origin and makes her home in Michigan, USA. Her haiku and haiga have been awarded and appeared in a variety of print and online journals. She creates haiku-related works combing visual arts and music. She is editor of the International Haiku Magazine Chrysanthemum.

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On the Road

"Listen ...," a long dropout makes the international call — difficult as it is anyway — almost impossible. From inside the car I see the oil pumps of the Odessa area passing by. It crosses my mind that this small town was mentioned in the novel that the funny gangster movie
"Get Shorty" was based on. Country and sky are gray.

"Okay, tax identification number ... now for all residents of Germany? – Oh, we left Germany a long time ago. We live here in the United States.  – Sure, I understand. All natural personal data: name, address, gender, date and place of birth, income, everything from the day of birth is nowadays connected with the new German Tax Identification Number (TIN).  – Yes, but ... What?  Now you want our US Social Security Number?  ...Why?! Don't you confuse ...?  What are you saying...?"

We are passing the town entrance; my husband slows down.

"Oh, I see, transparency and easy access for all government auth...  But what about personal data security?" At the other end a weak hiss and at the windshield my head – in front of us the only traffic light red.

We turn onto 385 which connects Interstate 20 with Interstate 10. The Freeway quickly turns into a country road with lots of potholes, with untended houses and brown fields on its sides. At Fort Stockton, a small settlement with some life and a little more history, we stop for gas and coffee.  The last 170 miles, the 385 snakes its way through an astonishingly green desert along the black-brown and red-yellow mountain ridge, the Glass Mountains. The radio spits its "Feliz Navidat" only in bits. It's almost the time. Above us the sky is still wide open. We reach the Big Bend National Park with its Chisos Mountains and, a bit further out, with its Rio Grande, the natural Border to Mexico. Next morning, we hike off with the first light – the essentials for survival on our backs, heavy boots on our feet – into this ragged back-country.

Spring dreams . . .
The newborn in the crib
sucks his thumb.