Tag Archives: accident

To The Young Man Who Cried Out “What Were You Thinking?” When I Backed Into His Car  

We all have such a lot on our minds these days.

“Reality is made up of circles but we see straight lines.”                                       Peter Senge

TO THE YOUNG MAN WHO CRIED OUT “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?” WHEN I BACKED INTO HIS CAR                                                                            

Lynne Knight

I was thinking No. No, oh no. Not one more thing.

I was thinking my mother, who sat rigid

in the passenger seat crying, How terrible!

as if we had hit a child not your front bumper,

would drive me mad, and then there would be

two of us mad, mother and daughter, and things

would be easier, they said things would be easier

once she went to the other side, into complete total

madness. I was thinking how young you looked,

how impossibly young, and trying to remember

myself young, my body, my voice, almost another

person, and I wanted to weep for all I had let

come and go so casually, lovers, cities, flowers,

and then I was thinking You little shit for the way

you stood outside my window with your superior air

as if I were a stupid old woman with a stupid old woman

beside her, stood shouting What were you thinking?

as if I were incapable of thought, as I nearly was,

exhausted as I’d become tending my mother,

whom I had just taken to the third doctor in so many

days, and you shouting your rhetorical question

then asking to see my license, your li-cense, slowly,

as if I would not understand the word, and the lover

who made me feel as if I never knew anything

appeared then, stepped right into your body saying

What were you thinking? after I had told him, sobbed

to him, that I thought he was, I thought he was,

I thought we would—and then my mother began

to cry, as if she had stepped into my body, only years

before, or was it after, and suddenly I saw the whole

human drama writ plain, a phrase I felt I had never

understood until then, an October afternoon in Berkeley,

California, warm, warm, two vehicles stopped in

heavy traffic on campus, a woman deciding to make way

for a car trying to cross Gayley, act of random kindness

she thought might bring her luck then immediately—

right before impact—knew would be bad luck,

if it came, being so impure in its motive,

and then the unraveling of the beautiful afternoon

into anger and distress that would pass unnoticed

by most of the world, would soon be forgotten by those

witnessing the event, and eventually those experiencing it

while the sun went on lowering itself toward the bay

and ginkgo trees shook their gold leaves loose

until a coed on the way home from class, unaware

a car had backed into another car, unaware of traffic,

stopped to watch the shower of gingko, thought of Zeus

descending on the sleeping Danaë in a shower of gold,

and smiled over all her own lover would do

in the bright timeless stasis before traffic resumed.

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After the Accident

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?