Lit/South Awards 2022
Poetry Competition – Honorable Mention

Steve Cushman

The Last Exxon in Oregon

I’m thinking of the time we vacationed in Oregon
and I almost ran out of gas as we climbed some
mountain I can’t remember the name of and Julie
kept saying I should have stopped for gas at that
last station, and damn I wish I had because
we’re screwed if we run out of gas here in the middle
of all these Douglas firs and hemlocks and trees
I can’t identify. One part of me feels sick 
knowing we’ll be stranded because our AAA 
membership expired and the other part thinks, Just 
drive, man, just drive and it will all work out, 
so I do and every minute or so she says Damn,
and I’m grateful she doesn’t call me an idiot, 
which I feel like, and which is mostly true anyway, 
and then up ahead I see this beautiful square sign 
and we pull in beside six lovely gas pumps and 
there’s only other person pumping, a guy in his
mid-forties like me, and he has a Volvo full of kids 
and a wife and he smiles, says That was close and I 
nod, then walk over to this stranger, and hug him 
at the last Exxon station in Oregon and he seems
to know exactly what I need, so he hugs me back.