POETRY BY ROBERT LUNDAY
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
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,
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 http://www.hfac.uh.edu/english/ta/lunday.
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