This poem is full of lovely images because they are painted specifically and succinctly. The poem builds as it moves from one thing to the next, the pay off as it concludes hits the heart. Don’t think the narrator doesn’t have choices, if you’ve missed her power take another look at the poem.
After the Accident Sue Ellen Thompson
the old rose-colored Buick turns in
past the rows of slush-covered cars
with webbed windshields and wrinkled doors.
My father steps out, unfolding himself
on the ice-slick asphalt with an old bird’s grace
and stands, hands at the back of his waist,
leaning against the sky. My mother,
buoyed along by her puffed blue coat,
is all scurry and search as she hurries
toward me through the glass door marked
“Service,” her arms already rising
from her sides. Swept up into
the car’s small warmth, I let myself
be taken to lunch, I let them order for me—
a cheeseburger in the golden arms
of mounded onion rings, a cookie the size
of my own spread palm
weighted with chocolate. I eat
and I eat, as if I’d been trapped
in that snow choked ravine for days,
as if food were love and I could absorb it,
turning it into flesh the way
they turned their love into me.
But seeing all that is left—a thinnish woman
in her forties without a car, without
even a purse, they must think
it is not enough. So they feed me and I
eat, and all that keeps me from an infant’s sleep
is who will carry me home when they are gone?