Bag by Ted Lardner

She missed being T-boned by less than a second.
He blew the red light, but, crossing with the green
she was just enough ahead. She called for a ride after dark.
We drove together the next morning to the impound
lot for her things. What a sorry place.
Raccoon tracks, damp, but slowly drying, canceling the hood of her car.
Glowing in pool of reddish fluid on the dirt, a star shape,
a paw print, stamped by a possum.

It was like a beautiful summer morning with a wrecked villanelle inside it:
We were 143,988 miles from where we began,
and I was in the back seat, and she was in the front,
and we were emptying the door pockets
of tissues, pencils, and lip balm.

                                        The whole time
the summer breeze, touching all the dead, wrecked cars towed in
with numbers in grease pencil glyphs—studying overnight—
on the crazed glass. Summer touching all the sad, wrecked cars,
the whole time in the impound lot, my hands full,
when I tugged the door closed with the toe of my shoe, I saw
how lucky, what a close call it was. Stood in a fringe of marsh reed
growing over my head.

                              When Saddam Hussein took power
he burned the marsh Arabs off of their land. The marsh grass
from that exact part of our world growing wild here, taller than everything,
here on the fringe of the impound lot, Euclid, Ohio,
a given Tuesday in July.

Some of these wrecks saw a bad end.
No one would want to have to do the clean-out we were doing now.
Together still. The air, beach-day perfect.
I’ve already mentioned the breeze. I don’t think we said
two words to each other. The whole time.,
the breeze, picking over the wrecks, picking up the damage
into its own small turbulences, carrying it along
in bags already fluffed, full of small clouds, and her look,
squinting up at them, a question they couldn’t answer.
Ted Lardner‘s writing has appeared in Poet Lore, 5am, Arsenic Lobster and The Normal School. He is an alum of the Colrain manuscript conference, and his chapbook, Tornado, was published by Kent State University Press.