Word was she’d hitched west

from the tip of Kentucky to get

 

away from a man and twenty

acres of sorghum this drought

 

baked into dust. Her boom’s

gone bust was someone’s idea

 

of a joke, until the housekeeper

in Mayfield pulled a road atlas

 

and spent condoms from Super

8 linen. Its pages creased open

 

to Illinois: her chosen route

traced gray roads north, a faint

 

graphite x over Paris, the words

“truck stop” underscored with

 

three tiny hearts

where her lover

 

grinds awake to find the chrome

bulldog absent from his Mack,

 

where women with aspirations

spread salve onto the muscles

 

of grown men they call Baby,

where bean walkers piss steam

 

into the last half-hour before

dawn and zip themselves back

 

up in jeans, relieved and wet

with dreams. She’ll soon see

 

the fine patchwork of Chicago,

pastel shapes labeled with posh

 

names of suburbs she believes

are near enough to taste. Wave

 

to its satin skyline. Never reveal

which village is their own: sun

 

burn pink, lavender, faded peach.

With whom she won’t be found.

 

Until, back home, talk returns to

the brutal, unchangeable weather.

 

 

Originally published in Palette Poetry