Two Lovers in a Rusted Pick-up

by Katherine Hoerth

Blissfully, we beat this truck to death.

And now we stand here on the roadside wondering

how it could have broken down again,

left us in this middle of our nowhere.

For years, I watched the paint flake off, the tires

wear smooth. I listened to the engine cough

like a grizzled smoker. Who would want

to crack her knuckles, try to bring this back

to life? It’s easier to throw your smooth

hands up, to hitch ride, to walk away

from this mess we made of peccadillos.

But the empty stretch of highway calls

with tumble weeds and endless Texas sky.

Who can face this barren field alone?

Instead, you let the grease of our mistakes

stain your hands, half-moons of black beneath

your fingernails that wax as dusk grows near.

The jagged edges of your curses callous

my palms. While fishing through the toolbox, grasping

at wrenches, hammers, lug nuts, anything

to bring this pile of rust to life, I pray

a silent prayer that it can get us back

together on the road where we belong.

I want the open window and the wind

snarling my hair, the highway’s dust

on our skin, the smell of gasoline.

We’ll try this one last time. You turn the key.

Together, we can taste our engine’s roar.

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