That car was burning. Are there any questions? It rested on its roof, flipped. Are
there any questions? The windshield had scattered its pointed little thoughts
over the pavement. Hello?
The wheels were muscle only and knew little, spinning pointlessly against the air.
The radio glowed like my heart, and it sang like my heart.
Even now, the man inside tries not to sleep. Anyone?
How darkness makes beautiful the same fire daylight ignores. How that queer
flower blooms best at night.
I saw the whole thing. Here I am. Up here.
It’s a rickety balcony I’m standing on. Then the car crash turned the houselights
on, so there you all are
gathered at your windows. The ambulance purred to a stop, its great red heart
flashing over the houses.
It warms the skin, and when I move, the planks below me want to break—
Won’t you cut his seatbelt with those clippers? Won’t you haul him out so I can
—then down I’ll fall past my neighbors’ windows, down I’ll tumble to where that
car is burning
and that man sleeps inside it and the column of smoke is invisible in the night
and you won’t notice my descent, no, you won’t cry out, you won’t turn and
gather around me, you won’t ask me any questions at all.
Kevin Prufer is the author of five books, the most recent of which are National Anthem (Four Way Books, 2008) and In a Beautiful Country (Four Way Books, 2011); the former was named one of the five best poetry collections of the year by Publishers Weekly. He is also editor of, among other collections, New European Poets (Graywolf Press, 2008) and Dunstan Thompson: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master (Pleiades Press, 2010). He is a professor in the creative-writing program at the University of Houston.
“Poetry” appears in our Spring 2012 issue.