In Other Words

"Speaking of Accidents"
Peter Everwine

Given the general murkiness of fate
you might, in my mother's words, "Thank
your lucky stars," a phrase she'd drop
into the lull between calamities
like a rubbed stone, then nod wisely
while it sank home, pure poetry,
meaning she loved the sound of it
more than its truth.
But precisely here one needs discrimination.
Our town drunk, steering by streetlamp home one night,
as was his custom, got fooled
beyond recognition when a fast freight at the crossing
fixed him to its glare. "Some men
are like moths," we said, and that
was the poetry in it,
meaning his sudden somersault into light.
Truth is, the world fell in on him
as it commonly does when you stray
from the garden path and run head on
into the pain that, until then,
was as lost as you.
The trick is to risk collision,
then step back at the last moment:
that ringing in your ears
might be construed as the rush of stars.
We all want stars, those constellations
with the lovely names we've given them blossoming
in the icy windblown fields of the dark.
Desire is always fuming into radiance,
though even a drunk can't hope to ignore
some fixity underfoot, some vivid point
closer to home where all the lines converge --
scars, I mean,
not stars.