You were thumbing across the continent,
backpack stuffed with rolled-up papers.
Look back east and sniff the wind for blood.
Sparrows scatter into ascending clouds
as you make your way across the parking lot.
A bumper sticker says Love or Bust
in letters made of tiny hearts
and you wonder how far it is to Love
and whether they will make it.
Too many folks whose sweetness is a sticky film
covering souls as sour as wild fruit.
In the bushes behind the rest stop,
you pick berries from a stunted bush, delicately
severing the stems with your fingernails.
Not all strangers are kind,
and you are a stranger too.
You mouth words but the fog swallows them.
Look over your shoulder, and you realize
you might as well fade into the thorny brush,
find a path down the hill into the darkening
trees, into gloom and moonrise, sliding
on loose pebbles sharp as mouse teeth.
No one will miss you if you don’t come back.
Occasionally they will see you in a dream
about the beauties of nature, a wavering
figure, tiny in the distance, walking
toward a light almost as bright as day.