“Close Call” by Christine Potter

Christine Potter


I’m still not sure I really saw the car—shiny red
on a day that was a long green nap—go airborne.
I saw the utility pole it had hit tremble—testing
itself against electric wires that couldn’t catch it—
and fall. But the car was surely on its roof and
beyond it the reservoir was lovely as that word’s
sound, and full of springtime rain. And past that,
long suburban lawns, eighty different shades of
green, green that owned itself so proudly you’d
need a Geiger counter to say how green: crazy, a
neon green, Kelly green, green like tomato vines
about to blossom and bear fruit. So I called 911.
My husband got us parked and ran across the
street to the kid in the upside-down red car, who
we both thought must be dead. And who seemed
profoundly still but moved his hands to put them
both over his face. It was raining again by then,
tiny drops you couldn’t see, and there were wires
down on the wet pavement. The cop who helped
the kid stand up and walk to the ambulance that
arrived told us he heard those wires singing. We’d
known they must be live. I’m old, my husband too.
The measure of our lives stretches out like a silly
accordion. We understand any number of dangers,
often read the papers to find out about them. We
step carefully in these day-long dusks, this sugary,
constant May rain. But I think our country is still
a garden. Look, irises snap their purple fingers on
creek banks; somehow, kids flip their cars and live.
And somehow the wires are still singing with news.

from Poets Respond
May 19, 2024


Christine Potter: “I have been especially disheartened by the news lately—and it’s hard to pin it down to just one story. The war in Ukraine is going poorly. But the New York Times Magazine story about extremist Israeli settlers twisted my gut the hardest; I’m a New Yorker with lots of Jewish friends, and I used to work for a school with a branch in Tel Aviv. I love Jewish people, but I see the brutal actions of the far-right Israeli government echoed in the far right here in America, who I fear would be equally violent, given the chance. I support the kids protesting on college campuses but worry about the consequences on the Presidential election in the fall. And then yesterday, my husband and I were driving to the local bakery when we ended up about half a minute behind a young man flipping his car. But everyone survived! I believe in American democracy more than most things. I hope for the best for my country, too.” (web)

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