Poetry: After an Accident by Jacqueline Schaalje
Traumatic moments come in many shapes, and here, Jacqueline Schaalje works to reveal one of the most common: the car accident. Ambivalent and child-like, the speaker of “After an Accident” doesn’t want to forget—they want to capture the “glitter” of it.
After an Accident
What you get from the crack, between the row of trees
a new route, white broken in the middle, sparse clouds thrown
and birds pooping from poplars. Bees buzzing. Here is
where my mother tried to dodge a Sunday driver, us two
kids in back. She stopped in time, in the glitter of day.
As asphalt crumbles in the circuit, an ambulance cuts out
the minutes for rescue, and the sky snarls like a dog,
wholesomeness bending backwards to give us sanction.
And everything, the great power in the thick of it,
we held like magic close to our skins. As we walked
we felt that something harrowing was behind us,
but there it was, the funny broomsticks of tree branches,
green sprigs that might sprout into delectables
—let me see yours? We don’t remember the intricacies
of that day. The whole mechanics of tunneling through it
lay beyond us. My mother does. But when that air
is above, so encompassing, eating us up, I say: I remember.
Jacqueline Schaalje (MA English from the University of Amsterdam) has published stories in On the Premises and The Massachusetts Review. Another story was a finalist for the Epiphany Prize, and in the New Guard Competition. She went to the Southampton Writers Conference (NY) last summer to work on a novel. A poem has just been published by Sky Island Journal and some are forthcoming in Sixfold. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.