Picking Up the Vanishing Hitchhiker by Karen Weyant

Whether you see her near Willow Ridge Run
or on Old Route 65, where Mill Creek floods

the road every spring, she always looks like a spirit:
skin pale as a single breath that fogs a cold window,

eyes gray, lips pinched pink by a chill. She sits
in your backseat, her thin white dress clinging

so tight, you see the sharp wings of her shoulder blades,
her collar bones poking through the high neck.

Sometimes, she shivers, so you give her your coat,
but mostly she is still, a crack in the window ruffling

her tangled hair. The story always ends the same:
she always disappears leaving only a weary father

at an address she once called home, his tone
telling you that he has heard about her phantom trip

many times before, or a destination to a different place,
Lakeview Cemetery where you find your coat

drapped over a monument, the sleeve flapping
over two dates. In the moment when you swing

the coat over your shoulder, you think you smell
lilacs. And a spring rain that melts a long winter.

Karen J. Weyant’s speculative poetry has appeared in Arsenic Lobster, Caesura, Cold Mountain Review, and Strange Horizons. In her spare time, she explores all the speculative elements she can find in the Rust Belt regions of northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York.

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