647 Readings


After the truck rocks fifteen feet sideways into the road’s silt shoulder at the washout,
everyone in the bed cranes their heads into the cab saying, ok? & everyone ok? &
everyone’s ok back here
—& we tilt back to the road in silence, four miles or more
as rocks crackle under the tires, splintering slow until someone in the car murmurs
that was scary
and we all exhale at once like a jar lid popping open, like a propane stove
that finally catches & we know now the whole room’s not full of gas, & your hand on my knee
finally lets out just a little bit & your shoulders shrink beside me as you let out your breath,
rubbing your hand on your forehead, me shifting back & forth in my seat sickened & peeking back
into the truck-bed at the men sitting on a spare tire & against the cab wall & on the tool-chest
in their wet coats like loose bolts all of them, the tire not even tied down, & I can just see them all
tossed around on a work bench & lost with the sharp percussion of dropped metal
in the moments before you catch me crying because I thought of myself dragging you
out of the crumpled cab, your head rolling back at a bad angle, mud all the way up
to my thighs as I pull you out on my knees & drag us both to the middle of the road,
screaming at the emptiness everywhere & knowing there’s no way I can get you safe from it.

Posted 11/03/10
This poem appeared in Volume 172 (Summer 2010) of the CIMARRON REVIEW.