I thought we were dead
when Dave spread his maps
across the wheel and took off
his glasses to consult them while his semi
careened unchecked down the interstate.
Hobo-girls think they can be
their own guardian angels,
kissing their St. Christophers
and sticking out their thumbs, trusting
the knife in a pocket, but I
prayed to something
on Rt. 80,
when we just wanted to get across
state lines, so we hitched
to a truck stop and trusted our knives.
And down came Dave in his 4-ton truck, embarrassed
by his housekeeping, how he’d spilled spaghetti
he’d cooked on a hotplate
the night before. Hobo-girls think
they can be their own guardian angels,
but when that old man
in a crossroad town 2 days later
put his hand on my shoulder and said,
“May God send angels to protect you,”
I didn’t think of
the girl I was travelling with,
though she looked angelic enough,
kissing her St. Christopher and
sticking out her thumb.
I thought of Dave,
who spread his maps across the wheel,
took off his glasses,
and picked a safe place
to drop us for the night, as his semi
careened down 80 unchecked.
There was a certain road-art
that made him know every turn without looking.
It was that same mojo we’d been after
for days, just trying to get
across state lines, clutching our knives
and sticking out our thumbs. “If you
were my daughters,” Dave said,
“I couldn’t stand to think of you out here, bumming rides
from truckers. They’re a nasty type.
I don’t like their society myself,” said Dave,
who made spaghetti over hotplates, and kept
a cooler full of sandwich supplies
he shared with us, watching us spread mayonnaise
across the bread, and going himself to search
for a wayward tomato, while his semi careened unchecked
through the tallest mountains in Pennsylvania
at 80 mph. “I take care of myself,” said Dave, “and try
to avoid the truck stops.” We didn’t wonder then
why he’d appeared at one on the outskirts
of Scranton soon as we’d
kissed our St. Christophers and decided
to look for a ride. “I hear stories,” Dave said.
“If you were my daughters I’d be worried
sick.” And I won’t lie now, though at the time
we gave fake names & histories, trusting our knives:
truth is, we needed rescuing. And I won’t lie
about how we sat and watched
after he dropped us off
to make sure he left again. Dave was clownish
and unswervingly kind, but hobo-girls
can’t be too careful. If I ever met an angel,
I’d do the same: stick close
to the girl I’m travelling with,
clutch my knife, don’t tell my name.
Sacred things aren’t always trustworthy.
I would eat his food,
I would give him a story that was close to true,
I would thank him, I would watch him leave, and then
I would kiss my St. Christopher.
I would stick out my thumb.
Sara Lier’s poetry has appeared in over twenty publications. She lives in New York City, where she is currently attending Brooklyn College’s creative writing program and working part time at the public library. She sleeps poorly, reads excessively, and dreams of leaving it all behind to live by the sea.