At the site of the crash
all is thunderingly still.
The street, trees, and houses
lie curled asleep in the predawn chill.
Silence hangs heavy as extinction.
But one truck wheel still spins.
We are first on the scene.
Blood pools in the peeled skull of the driver,
suspended by the half-sunk sickle of his belt
and a bolt of glass is spiked through him like a lance.
He is dead. He is dead.
Hands shaking, you rush back to the car
and call 911.
I am frozen before the wreckage.
Here hangs somebody’s son.
How thin is this veil of living, these lamp-lit,
quiet suburban streets
stretched like frail skin over the dark
running sewers of the void.
The truck must have swung to dodge a cat, caught
the curb at high speed and flipped
in slow motion
to crunch and buckle upside down into the stop sign
and then the wall of the dentist’s office,
telephone wires smoking and tangled like a toxic jellyfish.
Finally a siren fills the sky with its screech.
And still the neighborhood sleeps.
But dawn slowly raises a rosy flag to half-mast
in the east.
One bird blurts a flat note.
The first morning walkers gather to gawk.
Somebody’s son, brother, father, lover—
split apart and wasted.
From eye to brain to psyche,
the image is fused to memory.
From pixel to page to history,
and then discarded and forgotten—
except by the vast unconscious:
the shock of the blooming red skull remains,
deep-seated in the sinew, burned into the roots
of the nerves—
and manifests as a faint tremble in the hands
any time a siren wails.
I couldn’t sleep. A motorbike
ripped the throat out of the silence
down the dark street below my window.
I couldn’t sleep. I listened
to The Psychedelic Porn Crumpets.
I listened to Sparklehorse.
I did a Sporkle quiz:
A Multi-Category Minefield Blitz.
I looked at the cable of veins in my wrists.
I felt heart-sick with longing for you.
A car door closed somewhere in the night.
Trucks hummed far off on the highway.
I began to feel fidgety and absurd.
My bookshelves shuffled. My socks
hissed like a rat-king on the floor.
My fridge hiccupped.
My dishes danced on the drying rack
like a hullabaloo of Essex-esque loblolly-men.
Little faces writhed in the carpet.
I Googled myxomatosis, absquatulate, pareidolia.
Finally the winter dawn broke,
the colour of dirty pigeons.
I survived the night.