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I hitchhiked to find the perimeter; drivers picked me up, going straight for the core.

At fourteen my loins were a snake charmer's basket, the drafting melodies minor and slow.

In a bread-truck the sliding door slammed on my hand. I leaped out without a goodbye, waving a bloody thumb for the next ride.

A woman and her man floated over in their Chevy. The man said his name was Ray. The woman tisked over my wound, then slipped my thumb in her mouth.

They stopped at the K Mart to buy me a box of Band-Aids. Ray went in alone, and the woman kept my thumb in her mouth. I gazed out the windshield, as if I were the driver.

The car was floating: heat was rising from the pavement. I was alert to the temperatures inside and out; I was the thermometer, I was the rising red.

All I wanted was to surf the perimeter: how far could I go and still make it home? I looked at the woman and thought of my mother, cooking over the stove, sweating, moving a lock of hair. Ray returned, and we drove away.

It wasn't my style to get out until the car was moving. Ray hung a slow right around the P.O., I lied and said I had stamps to buy as I pulled my thumb from the woman's mouth and leaped.

Then I wiped my thumb on my shirt, went inside, and bought the stamps, my lie.

Robert Lunday was born in South Carolina and raised on Army posts throughout the South and overseas. He has had two residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and a Stegner fellowship at Stanford University. Mad Flights, his first collection of poems, is forthcoming from Ashland Poetry Press. He lives in Texas with his wife and son, and is finishing a Ph.D. in English at the University of Houston. More of his work can be found at

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The Blue Moon Review/Blue Penny Quarterly, ISSN 1079-042x
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