Collision, Monday, 3 PM

by Elizabeth Stoessl

Out of his open Jeep he flew—
aerial spiral, tossed rag doll,
splayed body
face down on the roadside, crime-scene silhouette.

We have killed a man—my first thought after
we crawled out, hugged and exhaled—
Why did we dawdle so long at the farm stand?
One minute sooner and we’d have missed him.

When he opened his eyes and he lurched to his feet,
stood up, staggered and bellowed,
assaulting us with his hot whiskey breath,
I feared he could kill us instead.

I don’t recall
much of what happened before the sheriff
put him in handcuffs, before
we were cared for and our crushed car towed.

All I remember is this:
A yellow school bus passed by,
filled with untethered children
peering out at our wreckage,

hit taken for them by one lucky drunkard
and two folks who lingered too long at a farm stand.


Elizabeth Stoessl lives, writes, and pays attention in Portland, Oregon, where she relocated from the East Coast and a career in public libraries. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Measure, Passager, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California.