White Firebird


The voice on the telephone freezes time as news:
my then-wife Sherry is at a hospital. The voice
avoids answering the question, How is she?
I’m told only, She’s been in an accident.
Just then, I want there to be a God so bad
I call out to the Don Corleone idea of God,
Whomever hangs and centers the galaxies

and we become what has been set in motion.
In the minutes needed to doubt wakefulness
and wake to find yourself driving, I’m there.
So many whispers. So much hospital-green.
The nurse says, Have a seat. I say, I’ll stand.
Then she shows me what’s behind the curtain
so I can see the way our life will be hereafter.

Sherry is wearing the clothes she picked out
that morning. No hospital gown or booties.
She’s explaining. I walk over and touch her,
words spilling like the anthem to the future
language is. This is what we mean by lucky:
the positively horrible cancelled altogether.
She says, The woman who hit me was tired

as if the failures of others could make sense
in Ohio, where the road can turn to dense fog
and headlamp threads twist into a single rope.
Ohio—where we believe God can see through
the history of corpses to distinguish a Firebird
from a Chevy, a few who sidestep catastrophe
from the majority who fail to swerve in time.


Photo by judy_and_ed

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About Author

Roy Bentley has received fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Prairie Schooner and elsewhere. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama, 1986), Any One Man (Bottom Dog, 1992), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine, 2006), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House 2013).

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