For Gregory Martin, Killed in Morning Traffic

by Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

June 24, 2009

An engine whines. Spools of grackle chatter
unwind midair. You are parked on the shoulder,
motor idling, not driving to work. All around you,
the mad game—cars hovering near wreck. Any one
could swerve and heave.
                                                     Potential energy released.
Beyond the hill, morning’s predictable star climbs,
its light like spun gold through the windshield.
Other plans can’t be known—a coat’s pockets filled
with river rock, the hunting knife shoved just left
of your breastplate.
                                           Eventually, the car door opens.
Someone notices, neck craned to watch your figure
in the rearview—someone to catch the story
on Local News 9 and recall. Or no one pays heed.
This is only one version:
                                                    you pray for the trucker
to forgive himself, to blame the glint of sun in his eye.
Then you step into the right lane. Carapace
of ribbed torso breaking open, body shattering
across morning. The semi’s grillwork knifed with blood,
with the intricate lace of gut. Last, the horn’s long cry.

CORINNA McCLANAHAN SCHROEDER is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi where she is the recipient of a John and Renée Grisham Fellowship. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Tampa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cave Wall, and Measure, and she is the recipient of a 2010 AWP Intro Journals Award in poetry.