three nights in, a pack of thru-hikers
emerged from one of many mouths

along the appalachian, and peeled
socks from their aching bodies

to drape over rocks alongside our
dinner fire: just add water

pad thai. which way told me
her name came from never knowing

where to go
or when to leave

and scout got his after getting clean,
but before he realized he’d been walking

for over a year. he’d probably
walk forever

he said, I wondered
what my name could be, or if

I’d ever need one, while trail
magic floated freely between fingers;

a canned beer, a joint, a candy bar
from the nearest town, I knew

I shouldn’t take or leave anything,
but I couldn’t help

myself, so I plucked
a smoke ring from the heavy

black sky, to wrap in wax paper,
I’d give it back once they made it

to bear mountain. that night, I pressed it
to my chest, in my sleeping bag,

what my name could be,

they’d be gone

by morning.

Aubri Kaufman is a writer and a mental health clinician from New Jersey. A handful of her work has been published in various literary magazines, including Punk Noir Magazine, Pink Plastic House, and Close To The Bone. She can be found on Twitter at @aubrirose.

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