Amanda chain-smoked and scrolled the iPod we wired

through the tape deck. At the wheel, I hand-blocked

oncoming high beams. Santa Cruz would give us

a couch for the weekend for no other reason than

we were twenty and laughed easily. We’d hoped to

beat the sun from Sac City College to the coast; we wanted to

see it disappear into the Pacific, slowly, then suddenly, the way

a person comes to accept an inconvenient truth, but we stopped

for burritos in San Jose where it took an hour to find La Vic’s

because we’d only been there once, drunk at 1 a.m. Tongues laden

with pork fat and tortilla dust, we sang along to The Ugly

Organ as we passed through patches of fog that hung like

cartoon ghosts over Highway 17. I was probably in love, but

saying so would’ve changed everything—starting with this:

she turned the stereo down and said we should stop for gin & limes

before the grocery store closes; she then lit a cigarette for me,

again on a cherry she’d kept alive for hours, this one

since 15th and W, the onramp for I-80 West; and again

and again, we pulled from the same, separate fire.

sand hills

Erik Wilbur teaches writing at Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He is also the program director of Real Toads Poetry Society, a literary organization that provides opportunities for residents of Northwestern Arizona communities to learn about, experience, and share works of literary art. His work has recently appeared in The Southampton Review, New Ohio Review Online, and Aquifer. His chapbook, What I Can Do, won the 2020 Chestnut Review Chapbook Contest. Erikwilbur.com