I don’t remember the crash
or the two weeks after
—an absence, a clearing.
What I was told:
a cloudy day, a Mustang,
a stop sign
(the girl’s first car,
her severed eyelid,
glass embedded in her face.
My head shattered the windshield,
then the side window).
I didn’t remember my name,
at the hospital asked again and again
what happened? Why am I here?
Did someone die?
For months I smelled
cologne and knew it
was an EMT’s.
this is guilt—
how that night I walked naked
into the living room filled with people,
how my husband wrapped me in a coat
and led me back to bed.
When he was 23, my grandfather
picked oranges in Florida. He rode
in the back of a truck into
and out of the grove—
and then full baskets,
piling around his legs.
(I see this all
in black and white).
When the truck turned over,
it rolled him out, flipped on top of him,
crushed his head into the soft mud of a ditch,
slicing his ear nearly off.
He recalled this with pride—
how the doctor sewed the ear back
how he returned to work that day,
extending his arm above the dressing
to pull the oranges from the branches.
Before the seizure, I see it hovering.
I say I should vacuum
I should mow—
the clock is running fast
traffic is moving.
The hazy slips that followed
the car accident fourteen
years ago. A fog,
like the one I watched move
through the city and up the twelve
stories of our building. It was afternoon
and I wondered at such a late arrival.
After the seizure, the same questions:
what happened? what time is it?
how much have I lost?
My nephew calls to tell about a wreck
on Grand Theft Auto: the car
ramped, flipped, he was thrown
through the window. He got up,
found a better car, tried the ramp
again. He is eleven. I don’t know
how to tell him about wrecks,
that if we do walk away, it is with
a bruise of guilt across the chest. It’s walking
away from expectation, faithfulness.
When my husband and I moved
across the country, we took Flat Stanley.
He rode between us,
sometimes drove, slept in the extra hotel bed.
We sent pictures to my nephew, a way of bringing
him along. He filled a screen with the pictures,
said he knew the difference
between real and fantasy,
asked for more.
When I lose the use of the left side
of my face, I am asked to believe
in providence. It’s genetic, this paralysis,
but I remember the girl in the Mustang,
how she instantly became someone else. I imagine
like me, she hid her scarred face,
refused to go back to school, wrapped
herself in herself, sidestepping everyone.
I, too, wish to spare you the sight of my
slant mouth and unclosing eye,
to avoid your slightly furrowed
brows of wonder. I learned to count
the needle-prick sensations in my forehead and jaw
as a second-hand,
timing how long I stayed away from my room
and, later, my house. I don’t know
what she looked like before. I am afraid
to find out what she looks like now.