The Hitchhiker Vanishes

BY Susan Slaviero

It begins with a thumb that bends outward,
a red scarf, an impending earthquake.

She tells your fortune, claims
the soybeans will fail, your complexion

will turn to ash, a body will appear
in your backseat at the stroke of midnight. 

She might ask to be dropped
off at the abandoned K-mart,

the parking lot at St. Bridgets church,
the farmhouse with yellow paint

peeling away like the scabs on girls knees.
You rub your eyes and shes gone

a glass witch, a sodium vapor. 
Later, you might find her coat

on a tombstone or claw
at your car windows when you see

a flicker of dark dress.


This might have something to do with predation, a paper cocoon
in a dead girls mouth, a bloody arrow drawn on an oak leaf.

Nothing is so slick as the red marrow from a femur, the red skirt
draped over a thigh. Call her a striptease, a hotel keychain, a pool

of wet painted under the body. She was breathing when you began
whistling between your teeth. Now there are beetles in her hair,

and she is folded over, raw fragments, the knucklebone
you swallowed, the plastic bag of fingernails you keep

under the backseat. She is the pair of lips you tattooed on your wrist
that means something, the secret you tongue when you're alone

in rented rooms, the damp graffiti you left on the pavement
in the shape of canid claws. You imagine she might return

as a mouse, something dark and skittering in your peripheral vision.
This is a trick. You appear in numerous guises, but her ghost

always knows you by the damage you cause to exterior tissue,
the oval tracks that lead away from the pretty carcass.


Ghost Ocean


Susan Slaviero's first full length collection of poetry, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press. She has two chapbooks: Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press, 2009) and An Introduction to the Archetypes (Shadowbox Press, 2008). Recent work has appeared in Kaliedotrope, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Requited, and Artifice Magazine. She designs and edits the online lit journal, blossombones, and is a cast member of The Chicago Poetry Brothel.