Two days ago I barked my shin
on a folding Samsonite chair:
just on my way to prune roses,
and a chair in the garage
where it shouldn’t be,
but I did go through
several stages of grief,
beginning with denial, then pain,
then an ice-induced acceptance.
Anytime I bang a knee or hand,
I imagine a crushed vein,
torrents of blood, unstoppable
except under the brightest of lights
and the most exotic of polymer sutures.
This time, again, I thought
while it happened,
it wasn’t happening,
like the time at the stoplight
when a seventeen-year-old
rammed me from behind;
or the time washing dishes—
shortly after passing a summer physical—
when I nearly scalped a knuckle clean off
with a French knife.
Lately, I’ve been considering hanging
a poster in my classroom as an antidote
to the lunchtime driving habits
of my sophomores: “Look Both Ways”
though likely the real the trick
is to know whether
we’re in a road at all.
Dan Clark’s work has appeared The Beloit Poetry Journal, Cloudbank, English Journal, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. He’s a retired English teacher who enjoys day-hiking Mount Rainier, chasing an ever-elusive golf swing, and supporting Poetry Out Loud. He lives in Kennewick, Washington.
“Both Ways” was originally published in The Shrub-Steppe Poetry Journal.