Andrew Collard

Trace

Where the grass is tall enough to whip
and a mailbox covered with faded stickers
lies sideways in the gravel, roadside—

where the stoplight turned to spotlight
as the evening fell, and the motorcyclist
disappeared beneath the belly of a teenager’s

reckless Focus—a boy kneels on concrete,
pressing pencil to the page to record his statement
as an ambulance pulls away and the driver

is released back to his embarrassed parents.
Now begins the tradition of the traffic cone,
the yellow tape, of slowing at the light

to see the wreckage. Now begins the sizing up,
the litigation, and a dozen officers asking
each bystander their story, the tradition

of history written by the living. They say
to describe the way the driver panicked, and tried to lift
the vehicle, and cried out when his ride arrived,

how the breath test came back clean. They say
to write how quick the cops came, how the cyclist’s
family came and went, and about the guilt,

it seems, the driver has to live with. No one
saw the man go under but the boy, who still
can’t shake the image of a man crushed into grass

and a booted foot protruding from beneath the car,
the boy who kneels to trace his story onto pavement—
pushing moment into monument—to bless the dead.

Andrew Collard lives in Kalamazoo, MI. His recent poems are forthcoming in Mid-American Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Prelude.




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