"Pick Up"

Nov 18, 2013

What kind of finger to point? At which
map showing which right or southern turn? On
the newly poured shoulder, tar sucks at my shoe

I'm willing to walk out here alone, gravel grinding
my heel, gray day and the surface of the road
one continual oatmeal. No one thumbs

a ride on the frontage road but me
so no one stops but you. Stories of fingers
in the psychopath's pocket, suspicion float back

and forth in our first stumbling exchange.
You need me for company. I settle grateful.
Highway lengthens toward silence, hazard lights

reveal a wreck ahead: that bend and crush is
a pickup, passengers broken and bruised. The cop signs.
So we slow. I make up my third biography of the day

a circus carnie off hard drugs, catching up with my troupe
in Butte. Troikas for proof? Or tattooed star chamber,
miniature Space Needle, question mark inked

around my thumb. The bleeding undone beside you
helps me breathe. Eyes avert, driven waxy, in shock.
Could be you. Could be someone I love.


Poems Across the Big Sky: An Anthology of Montana Poets

Shaun Gant grew up in Clancy, Montana, and studied writing with poet Richard Hugo at the University of Montana. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. Her poems, plays, and collaborations with visual artists are widely published. "Pick Up" was published in Poems Across the Big Sky: An Anthology of Montana Poets.

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