It’s like the moment after
crashing, when you feel
for blood and broken bones,
push the airbag aside,
try the latch
and escape.
And the other driver emerges,
shaken, blinking, bruised,
but seemingly whole. And you
meet on the pavement,
exchange information, assess
the dented panel,
the tire-tracks snaked on the road,
the dangling mirror.
Of course, you both deny fault
and his denial makes you
question your own involvement,
so that as you drive away
the tears begin to rain.

Or it’s like waking in the morning
with a certain heat, a certain
wetness, hair disheveled,
nightshirt slipped
from one shoulder,
but with bright eyes,
and a feeling that if
you reached, you could
almost remember.
A curl of dark hair.
A hand slipped downward, and up,
A hot, violent rush.
But no, your mind dwells on
the alarm clock,
the morning traffic report.
The memory strains,
so you have to drag the ebbing dream
to even drudge up the hair, the hand.
And nothing more.

More like a feeling
in your chest, your arms,
or just behind your eyes,
almost suffocating, almost breathless,
almost hyperventilating. Or rather,
beyond the primitive need to breathe.
The smell of static air
at sunset, the rose-pink glow
at the horizon.
A feeling that if you close your eyes
and stretch your arms
and hold your breath
just so,
then maybe you can hold it
even for a second, grasp it
before it slips away.


Jeni McFarland