laying in the silence
waiting for the sirens
signs, any signs
I’m alive still

-Train Wreck, by James Arthur
(also the inspiration for this poem)

the tickle of air against an open wound,
pain from ankle to calf as I stretch,
tiny pieces of glass-shattered-window,
are stuck in my skin and hair.

silence – not silence – crying from a child,
I cannot see her, my arm is trapped with
twisted metal, the cage of a train car
holding me helpless against the floor.

a spilled purse, a slidden briefcase,
lipstick rolling slowly across the cracked
floor, mumblings in a foreign language,
a man’s voice rocking back and forth.

smoke slicing through every breath,
panicked thoughts surge like the
sea smashing shells against rocky cliffs
I cannot see the lights on the bridge.

a ringing phone that no one will answer
I am living in the echo after my last words
hoping for enough breath to try again,
to more than whisper the prayers in my head.

I could have stayed
Should have helped her tuck the kids beneath
a blue-and-yellow comforter, should have
braided my daughter’s hair before school.

the screech and whistle of another train
has it only been seconds or minutes?
in the numb haze of shock I can feel the
blood as much as I can taste it.

the blend of heat from dying fires
meets the winter air creeping in through
the open floor, broken windows hang
like all our pieces that will always be shattered.

tires on gravel outside and voices are like
static in this cavern, a stricken face melts
into the wreckage and then reappears.
A hand like ice on my shoulder. Saved. 

I think that maybe I will wake up





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