Early August, hours west of Omaha, I’d pulled to the side of the road to see why the car was wobbling and sadly found a front wheel had sheared off four bolts. We were out of luck again. Early afternoon, my youngest son and I hundreds of miles from the house we’d left and the house we aimed to find. The big rigs booming by one after another, shaking the car loaded with all we had, and the pale sky riding above, cloudless and distant. My heart pounded out of some need to be heard, to address the land without end, to strike a single chord that would go on and on the way light goes on and on seeking the last darkness or that day went on in western Nebraska forever in blinding sunlight or until an old man in a Pontiac four-door stopped to ask, Was we in trouble? and took us home where he served buttermilk and crackers while he phoned up the Ford people they should see to it fast. You know how a six year old blond, small for his age, with a solemn, pensive air can almost make your breath catch, your eyes fill with tears, especially at those times he will not explain the hidden sources of his understanding. Such boys ask for nothing. They simply stand in the center of so large a place, quiet, accepting. The old man took his hand as he walked us around the borders of his farm, claiming his ancient rights that sooner or later the bank would claim. Acres of wheat, a small garden where the onions were done, gone to white seeds, the sweet corn above our heads and rising. Three kinds of tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, kept him busy. Handed up, my boy sat grimly on the tractor seat holding fast to the steering wheel as though the world in its turning might buck him off, his face fixed and serious. The old man returned from the barn leading a goat on a rope, a white goat named Ahab as though he’d gotten the story wrong. Teddy stared out over the acres of wheat stretching all the way to those mountains we had yet to cross, stared, and would not begin to smile or come down to earth, while the great day went on. To be lost in the center of America, to be taken in by a stranger whose needs go unannounced, to sleep beside your father, what can it mean at six? He would grow to manhood, leave home, risk the continent again in far worse cars. Perhaps the lesson never took or was no lesson but something else about the open, wide gaze of a day under the August sun, the gift of light bronzing the wheat, the vast chord of sky rolling across the fields, which answer with their pips and squeaks. A second day wakened downstairs with our host stumbling into chairs, pipes groaning, the one shrill note of coffee boiling into bitterness. Perhaps the son saw his father laugh this day, heard him clink cups with the old man, and each pour from the little screw-top bottle to make it royal. After that old Aaron drove us back to the highway, and we stood beside the Ford miraculously repaired and exchanged money and addresses —for a small miracle has a price. Now Aaron leans down to the window to point the way ahead. He calls it west, he mentions Colorado, the high mountains snow-capped even now, and says nothing about music, though the notes are rising all around us, bird calls, exhaust roars, the slap-slap of tires, the unheard cries forming a new song, unheard, that wants to be sung and won’t. Holding up the map for us, my boy points out the roads inked across the cracked and folded paper, “Navigator,” Aaron says, and Teddy smiles at last, and now the three of us are laughing at once, without harmony or reason.