Liz N. Clift, "Strangers"



Twilight’s mascara coats boughs of Norfolk pine.
A trucker in a plaid shirt, sleeves rolled up, and loose
jeans stands on the side of this two-laner
where even the dual-yellow stripe can’t drive straight.

The rig’s cab bathes the trucker in golden-orange,
like heaven’s blessing in the movies.

Black billows from engine, smears sky
and trucker. He stands there, head thrown back,
laughing. He’s young and still believes freedom
looks like open roads and bald eagles and an American

flag behind a white picket fence. Somewhere a loon
calls out. Somewhere, frogs and crickets take up the chorus.

Somewhere on this highway, white eyes burn green flames
paired in the forest. Somewhere, not far from here, a waitress waits
for someone who doesn’t ask her which goddamn pie is best
or if the coffee’s fresh. She doesn’t dream of leaving

or meeting Mr. Right. She just wants to make enough to feed
her book habit and plunge her hands into spring soil

and pull them out again at harvest. He doesn’t
believe in love and the best things about trucking
are nights spent at rest stops and how miles
eat hours eat landscapes. He puts out his thumb.

Maybe he will stop at the diner and order peach pie
and she’ll strike up conversation, just to earn a tip.


Liz N. Clift holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa State University. Her poetry has appeared Rattle, Hunger Mountain, The MacGuffin, JMWW, and other literary journals.