mostly the swerving
by Jo Angela Edwins
Old Lumber Mill Road is indeed old, sinking
at the edges like an old man’s jaws,
its two lanes shoulderless, bordered by swamp,
except for small stretches that showcase
on one side brick houses and clover fields,
on the other a trailer park, a burned-out church.
The morning the mother’s car tumbled
across it like a fallen leaf,
it was cold, the day after Halloween,
the day after the day of the dead.
Neither the mother nor her child,
asleep and buckled in back,
knew what was coming. Which goes without saying.
None of us know, making life the terrible
bliss that it is. The sun gleamed exactly
the same just before as it did
afterwards. What surprises us
when everything changes is that nothing does.
We lie still as gray bones in the woods,
feeling earth cycle like a paddlewheel beneath us.
We can do nothing but lie.
Perhaps the woman and her child live.
Perhaps they don’t.
Someone at the scene recalls out loud
his grandfather’s advice:
whatever it is, collide with it.
It’s mostly the swerving that kills us.
Jo Angela Edwins teaches English at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. A native of the Augusta, GA, area, she holds degrees from Augusta University and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She has been published in various venues including New South, Calyx, Typishly, Number One, and Naugatuck River Review. She has received poetry prizes from the South Carolina Academy of Authors and Poetry Super Highway. She is a board member for SC Humanities.