ACCIDENTS


A sudden heavy shower of summer rain

slows the early evening motorway

to a blood red blur of brake lights.

In my mirror, I see two cars collide,

career across the lanes – and others stop,

receding out of sight into the downpour…

 

I am thirteen and a half and tall for my age –

the year of Hungary and Suez;

am sitting on the red leather back seat

of an almost straight-from-the-showroom

Morris Minor (in the inexorable green),

having dined at Heathrow’s new, five star

restaurant and sampled hors d’oeuvre

and tasted Riesling for the first time;

am being driven back to Golder’s Green

by Yvette, the car’s owner, a fashion designer

and childhood friend of the other passenger,

Angela, my aunt, a night club pianist,

briefly home from Johannesburg –

both daughters of Tzarist refugees,

both light years from the Pale,

bleached blondes, smoking Sobranie

Black Russian in ivory cigarette holders;

am listening to these nubile women,

our daughter’s age now, talk acidly

of their exes, wearily of their dads

when a four door car, overtaking,

somewhere on the Great West Road,

comes seemingly too close and Yvette

swerves sharply right, her bumper

striking its fender with a metallic thump…

 

Fifty and more years later I forget

the dénouement. Certainly, no one died.

I think of you, somewhere perhaps without rain,

watching the sun set, perhaps wondering where I am,

why I am late, while I drive homewards.

 

Note: this piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’ – http://www.armadillocentral.com/general/a-jar-of-sticklebacks-by-david-selzer.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Arthur Kemelman - November 30th, 2009 at 17:24

    I rather enjoyed this poem, David. I think you did a very nice job of conjuring up that boyhood-early manhood ride along the rainy highway with the two rather flousy, worldly women. All is vividly etched in the poet’s memory and yet he forgets what the end of the accident was, how things worked out. This forgetfulness contrasts nicely with all the details that he does remember. Beneath the surface of the mind, the accident of some fifty years before has created in the poet as he drives home — to his wife? — an awareness of the chanciness (is there such a word?) of life. You could very easily have created a sense of foreboding at the end of the poem but I think you very nicely sidestepped the issue and relegated the separation that exists between two persons in the poem at the end to the normal course of events that occur in our day-to-day lives.

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