Someone today will get the awful news
I saw as I walked across the highway overpass
en route to the library. Below, one firetruck
angled, closing a lane. The ambulance drove away,
lights flashing, but silent, no sirens announcing,
and on the grassy incline on its back splayed a car.
I slowed and O jesus, someone just died there,
I knew. My body halted. Five firemen, two cops,
the crew from the upended flatbed,
another firetruck; a line of orange cones outlined
the scene. Three lanes down to two, no matter
for so few cars this cloudless mid-April midday
of white dogwoods opening, daffodils
and hyacinths, glowing forsythia
like the trees going green. How could
it happen on this flawless day? I rushed to the library,
returned books, and had to write this down.
But by the time I returned to the overpass,
the cones, the cops, the trucks and car were gone,
as if I had imagined it all.
The big girls know the ropes
how to swing them to the beat
you have to feel in your knees
and when to spring and sway.
Then you're in, all at sea
scudding the breaking waves
buoyed by the song the big girls sing.
When you're grown you can't remember
the words, but the rhythm is written
in your bones. Now,
when you see little girls double dutch,
you navigate not only the grace
of getting in, but also the tack of getting out
without foundering, which matters now.
L. S. Bassen won the 2009 Atlantic Pacific Press Drama Prize. Currently, three of her
novels are serialized at Troubadour 21 and Fried Fiction. She also reads
for Electric Literature.