The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Cherrylog Road” is a narrative poem, a memory recounted in the first person. The title identifies the setting of the event that the speaker recalls: Cherrylog Road is the location of a junkyard in which the speaker meets his teenage lover for secret assignations. As the title suggests, the poem pays a lot of attention to setting, even identifying Cherrylog Road, in the first and last stanzas, as a roadway branching off of Highway 106. In spite of this specificity, the poet identifies the location only as an unnamed “southern-state.” Details reveal that the setting is the rural South—bootlegging country—and that the time of year is summer.

The speaker arrives at the junkyard first for a prearranged meeting with his lover, Doris Holbrook. Little information is offered about Doris except that she lives nearby and must meet the speaker on the sly for fear of retribution from her father. While waiting for Doris, the speaker explores the junkyard, moving from wrecked car to wrecked car and fantasizing about their owners or picturing himself as a race car driver. As his anticipation mounts, his imagination turns to Doris, and he speculates about the unpleasant consequences of being caught by her father. By the middle of the poem, the speaker hears the sound of Doris approaching, tapping the wrecked cars with her wrench (she must return with used car parts to explain her absence from home). However, it is not until the fifteenth of eighteen stanzas...

(The entire section is 406 words.)