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