Total Loss

There’s a Third and Jefferson sign at
Third and Jefferson that I pass when I go to the vault.
And when I see it
I shudder
Imagine the synapses firing violently
Smoke bellowing through your scalp
Hands on the wheel
Jaws of life
Heavy foot
Dense heart saturated with
A will to wreck us and survive

On corrected pavement
The heat stirs a mirage
Of us as
Three children play pretend
And wait
For the light to change

One held the hand of someone big and quiet
Tried to hush the others
Looked both ways

Another recited the constitution
Scratched his stick on the curb
Printed the names of his family and achievements there with discarded birch

The last popped her knuckles Impatience
Wound her tin toy key
Your cotton-mouthed lacunas
And we all merged there
Under shrapnel and spark
Warped steel
Tinder and fire
By your gall
Around third and Jefferson.

When they pulled me out,
It was too late
Wound down
Your grip on the wheel
My chest
No one holding my hand
No index to charred lips
No sight or movement
No synapse in me
Just the quiet of shrouded, corrected pavement

I never saw it coming
Tin toys wear painted smiles
They come from China
Of birch
Of tin
Ready to cross the street
Missing a limb

I go that way every time
And there I lie in front of me
Twisted up in the haze of the heat
On corrected pavement

Now I know why
The road’s been corrected there
My hands in their pockets
A whistle in my breath
But I’m looking both ways
All ways
Always cross on green.