portion of the artwork for Jayne Pupek's poems

Hitchhiker on Route 231
Jayne Pupek

The trees looked blue in the absence of light.
The car might have been an abandoned house.
They were friends, you know, the three of them,
and picking up the hitchhiker seemed
the right thing to do, until the moment came
and no one, not even God, could rescind it.
Something like adhesive stuck to the man’s hands.
The women paled without their clothes and makeup,
and he thought of the vases kept on the piano,
how they collected dust from the fan overhead
in the house where he lived as a boy.
Only vases don’t tremble or go down on their knees;
dust doesn’t glisten the way women do.
Someone unimportant said we are all animals,
and so this night is proof, and yet
if the body gives off the odor of fear,
we have lost our ability to smell it.
What is apparent is the gasp for air
and the trill of pleading voices.
Take what you want, Mister. Just don’t kill us.
You don’t know what you’ll do at gunpoint.
Afterwards, the rain cannot wash you clean.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 27 | Law & Order Issue | Winter 2010