Directly After the Accident

Thereís a slow, silent game of counting
like the way numbers begin for a child,
fingertip prodding each countable thing
tentatively, giving value by naming it,
acknowledging its presence with touch.
There is a remarkable quality of silence
when counting in the midst of what you
know is sound. Traffic scrapes around you,
as though a little hole has been carved into
the movement of things, just so you can
add up all of what you are most afraid of
losing. Each one speaks to you, but after
years of no longer needing your fingers
to count, you cannot believe what is now
there without touching: your partnerís arm,
dusted with airbag talcum, your sonís
pale hand, reaching from the seat behind,
still there, making you feel it. You have
entered a strange equation where method
seems empty: subtract the split
windshield, that door, stand on the street
like a remainder to what has happened all
around you. Multiply glass, wipe blood
from the slate of your face, write names,
street numbers on paper, turn it all in, pray
for a decent grade. But even when it works
out the way you wanted, when stitches
line up to seal in danger and x-rays show
columns of intact bone, when youíve said
the last word about the miracle of seatbelts
and airbags, when you all walk out into the
sum total of Marchís precise, cold air,
still, you canít help knowing what is meant
by number sense, that new math all the kids
are learning. That even though itís all adding
up, even though you carried and borrowed
and factored and came out even, something
lucky remains. That even though youíve
touched each precious thing with your finger
and named it, now inside your thankful mind
thereís a new, slow, silent game of counting.

Juliet Latham has an MA in Creative Writing from Temple University in Philadelphia where she also teaches writing and literature. She is currently a poetry student at the Writing Studio in NYC. Her work has appeared in a variety of places, including Pindeldyboz, The Edward Society, BLOOM, Monkeybicycle, and was selected for performance in the Writing Aloud Series at the InterAct Theater in Philly.(julietlatham@aol.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761