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.