“Hit and Run” by E. P.

E. P.


My therapist tells me I’m better off if you’re dead.
I mean, not dead-dead,
maybe I’m paraphrasing.
They aren’t suggesting you should die.
Please don’t go
driving off a cliff with your lovely new wife.
I already tried that.
I assure you
the static between atoms as your hands levitate
is charged by a guilt that has its own gravity.
It will pull your fingerprints back to the grooves
worn softly into your steering wheel
like tiny graves
for the smallest traces of your identity.
No, my therapist just means
it’s better if you’re dead to me.
Which I guess you have been anyway.
I’m not imagining a world in which
I never got an apology.
I will never know if you are sorry
for picking me up from the abortion clinic
and taking me to your grandmother’s house
to dye Easter eggs
with your entire family.
It sounds like a sitcom
but I am not nearly clever enough
to fabricate that kind of tragic comedy.
Do you still have that car?
Your dad’s hulking ’64 LeSabre?
Everyone called it Gold Member
and my only real memory of the interior
is how the front seat
felt devastating.
The problem with post-traumatic stress
is that it manifests in strange
and unpredictable ways.
For example,
any time a nurse comes near me
my legs crumple like a bruised fender
and suddenly I am screaming.
Whenever I see a gold car
all I feel is that coffin heartbeat
The fevered aftermath
of turning life to death to ash to agony
was a lesson in shattering.
It gashed holes in my brain,
like the cigarettes I stumped out
on my thighs left potholes;
like the white lines I chased
mirrored the skid mark scars I carved;
like the accident in my abdomen
left a crater in the road.
Each finale landscaped my terrain, 
and I will never know if you are sorry
for leaving me to patch it on my own.
If only the tenacity of my rage
held as loosely as the cells of that body.
My resentment and regret
don’t disintegrate so easily.
If I ever find the note you left me—
yes, the one from two weeks after
when you quietly crept to my window
in the dead of night
and so tenderly slipped
some debris under the sill
to tell me you were breaking up with me—
I will never know if you are sorry
but I will read that note as a eulogy
on every anniversary.
I think I kept it, anyway.
Or maybe I buried it with you
when my therapist suggested 
you are more helpful six feet underground.
I’ve dug and filled so many holes
they’re all starting to feel the same,
but I suppose one of them must contain 
some evidence of your hit-and-run.
Really though, did you keep the car?
I have to know.
How much can you fit in the trunk of a graveyard?
What baggage did you pack to fill your new home?
Did your wife let you bring it in the house
or do you keep it in the garage?
Are my stains still on the bench seat?
Can you see the small hole in the lap belt
where I bit through trying to muffle my grief?
When you reach for the steering wheel
can you feel the pull of my gravity?
Or the tombstone weight of our baby
that I cradle between my knees?

from Rattle #80, Summer 2023


E. P.: “I am a ray of sunshine who moonlights as a poet. I live in San Francisco and write to give my heart some breathing room. Most of my attempts to write about life end up being poems about death, but poems about death are merely poems about love.”

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