Mariana Rodriguez Payan, “Within the Old Blue Truck” / Albertine Perez-Hope, “A Ride for an Ear”

“Within the Old Blue Truck,” Mariana Rodriguez Payan, digital photography, 2022

A Ride for an Ear

Albertine Perez-Hope
I could be found 
searching the horizon 
for a ride on a dusty road
waiting for another story to unfold.
The car stops, ends 
the sun-baked silence. 
Cool air and faint radio chatter 
drift out of a rolled down window.

“I’m only going one town over,”
says the woman inside.
Wisps of gray hair
frame probing eyes.
She recognizes
in me
a person she knows:
a daughter, an old school friend.
There are things, so many things,
she's been waiting to tell 
her–this person–not me,
but I’m here so I’ll listen.

The rides aren’t free 
they’re paid in 
company, conversation–
but most of all silent attention.
I carry with me a well for pouring 
secrets and a mirror in which a stranger sees
the ghosts that populate 
their mind.

Out the window I might see
fields, scattered houses, brush spreading over dirt and rocks
and I might hear about
unemployment, aliens, marriage, plastic shrink-wrap factories,
a childhood spent very near or very far away.
Words reach through the loneliness 
that fills the thin air between us.

Mariana Rodriguez Payan is a Mexican-American photographer specializing in environmental portraiture. Currently, she’s exploring the intimacy of her family’s interpersonal dynamic, showcasing everyday life through her photography. She wishes to expand her creative mind, taking a new interest in indoor studio settings and the incorporation of controlled, artificial lighting. Her art and journey in discovering herself can be seen at her Instagram handle: @hoii_im_mari_arts. 

Albertine Perez-Hope landed in Phoenix by accident as she was hitchhiking to California. She’s currently completing an AA Degree with an emphasis in History at Phoenix College.