Hitcher

By Simon Armitage

I’d been tired, under
the weather, but the ansaphone kept screaming:
One more sick-note, mister, and you’re finished. Fired.
I thumbed a lift to where the car was parked.
A Vauxhall Astra. It was hired.

I picked him up in Leeds.
He was following the sun from west to east
with just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed. The truth,
he said, was blowin’ in the wind,
or round the next bend.

I let him have it
on the top road out of Harrogate – once
with the head, then six times with the krooklok
in the face – and didn’t even swerve.
I dropped it into third

and leant across
to let him out, and saw him in the mirror
bouncing off the kerb, then disappearing down the verge.
We were the same age, give or take a week.
He’d said he liked the breeze

to run its fingers
through his hair. It was twelve noon.
The outlook for the day was moderate to fair.
Stitch that, I remember thinking you can walk from there.

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