She got her license in an old pick-up
that peculiar wasted green of county trucks
with column shifts. No one else could
drive it but her uncle, who gifted it to her
for the summer, in return for her sworn
oath to enroll at Sul Ross come fall.
The summer night skies wheeled
with constellations. Into the back she threw
the cleanest mattress pilfered from the old
Nightowl Motel, seized for back taxes,
sleeping bags, an ice chest and a camp stove.
A deck of cards and a Ouija Board tucked
where girly-girls would keep mascara.
She knew each short order cook by name
down the lean tangle of highway she drove
city to city, knew where to park
in every liquor store lot
to avoid nails, scumdogs and glass,
knew when to refill the cooler,
where to hide the flask,
when to get more smokes.
Nights she climbed up in back,
watched the stars, séanced the stories
she’d grow into, the countdown
from seventeen into the grace of adulthood.
Every thickly enameled cup of coffee
each morning reminded her of her promise—
she loved the adventure but this was for summer,
a side-step, a novelette,
not her saga’s beginning.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Her most current chapbooks are “The Coincidence of Castles” from Glass Lyre Press, and “Romance and Rust” from Blue Horse Press. “Down Anstruther Way” is forthcoming from
FutureCycle Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).