Praying for Trash
by Amber May
I am roadkill, piled high with the least of them…
I approach the inanimate, slow the car
Time (or something like it), also slows
Please, let it be a discarded teddy, a soggy sock,
a ball of steel wool...
I shiver. It’s a squirrel.
Fluff of tail still coy, on high alert
little hands poised upward as if awaiting a beach ball
guts spilled, pornographic, as if from a crowded womb
Could this be Grandpa, reincarnated
or the squirrel-equivalent of Einstein (America’s gpa?)
killed before he could complete
the first formula in his last notebook?
I approach the still-life, swerve the car
Space (or something like it), also swerves
Please, life, science, God, gods, Dali’s melting clocks,
the circumference of circumstance
Forrest Gump’s floating feather of fate and chance, Please,
let it be a broken branch, a stolen purse,
that lost remote from two TVs ago...
I shiver. It’s a crow.
One wing unfolded, erect
Each passing car teases the bounty of
rocket-science-perfect feathers, with its surge of hot wind
Could this be Georgia O’Keefe
without her paintbrushes all pent up with poetry
Why did the crow cross the road and stop halfway?
To nibble on the freshly killed squirrel
I approach the mass, stutter the car
Thought (or something obnoxious and indulgent), also stutters
Please, let it be a chunk of insulation, a bag of banana peels, a box of nothing...
I shiver. It’s a possum.
Her name was Tracy Louise.
She was loved by a ten-year old girl
whose capacity for empathy would make Saint Francis weep.
Did you know, possums purr without purring
their ears are like petals and their tails are stronger
than your neck
It is the same memory. It is the same dream.
Here, behind the wheel, I am a broom made of God and wasted day.
How small is small enough
not to count
not to care
Moths do their thing while I do mine
but the road was theirs first.
My windshield, my tires, my grill contort The Grim Reaper to verb
headlights become spotlights
for massacre most accidental
too late to stop
too narrow to swerve
Purity of physics is on my side, not theirs
but I am on their side, not mine
They burn for the light, the light, don’t go into the light…
The collision is quick and seamless, this time.
I approach the pile
Trust (and other illusions), also approach
Please, let it be scraps of metal, treads of tire, luggage lost on purpose, un Ugly Sweater Party sweater set...
I shiver. Two raccoons.
Curled up like commas with no clause between them
lovers in their prime, Sid and Nancy (minus the malice)
their hands like our hands, but cleaner
dexterity to create and destroy
to compose without witness without ego
Fingers search for food like Galileo for patterns in the stars
stars with no need for names
Windows up, but the smell hits first, regardless
and I know death (or something crueler)
has carved its initials into these new souls
Please, let it be a dream, an afternoon nap from which my mother’s cat soon wakes...
It’s a litter of baby skunks. I shiver.
The weight of the world, the evolution of technology,
the desperation to get to work six minutes early has popped the perfect capsules
of their potent defense potions, so much for defense
cherry donut red oozes where a moment before
they curled plump and promising
Where is the road’s mercy where is anything’s mercy
They are babies, mere babes, they were innocent, kinder than kittens
They were merely
they were babes
Like your babes
It’s a deer.
must have curtseyed
a thousand pains
before death closed them, bowing.
Beauty is a spectator’s sport
The deer, more beautiful than
than the most scrumptious supermodel
backlit by the glow of the Sistine Chapel, David and God singing in sighs
never touching, almost and never
finding themselves interchangeable
(them / selves)
the word, almost
the word, never... interchangeable.
When I was eleven or twelve
in the car with my mother, we hit a dog.
From a nearby house, a child came running
He was shocked into a new season.
His family was there, heartbroken, not angry, they understood
When it kills you to kill you’re not a villain.
We were not the villain, but we were the instrument of this ravage-rude surgery
and so we stayed with the family, there on the road, let our faces fall with them
We stayed to do the nothing that could be done.
Speeding Approach Swerve Please, It’s a cat.
your Zen master born backwards
Spacing approach swerve, please, It’s a buffalo.
Endlessly rolling its eyes like Sisyphus rolls his boulder
Driving, jaded, approach swerve shiver, It’s Jesus.
His skin was made to withstand the legions of misunderstandings
to willingly surrender to the self-righteous sun
but his bones were not calcified to endure
the breath of metal, speed, the distraction of the driver…
The road ate the water on which he walked
The family sedan knocked down the wood on which
they spread his flightless wings and you can take a seat
next to this sadness but he will not be returning anytime soon and
There is no innocence after this
Original sin and original innocence
Driving Approach Swerve Shiver Please
Body (recognizable), soul (disoriented)
fingerprints unravel, curls shrug, let loose their battle for buoyancy,
freckles press to asphalt like type in a closed book I never finished reading
i never finished writing… she forgets
the daily mirror-storm
and what all that effort was for
She preferred humor to hubris and
reciprocity to symmetry
Her man was the world’s best kept secret
she was a living epitaph, plagiarizing herself for kicks
she meant well and will be missed
she’d rather be sleeping
DrivingApproachSwerveShiverPleaseIt’s a glove,