Joe Mills




DRIVERS

 

Although we don't want to, we have to stop to change

the baby, so we pull into a McDonalds, and afterwards

we let her crawl around as we drink coffee, eat fries,

and watch other people's children in the PlayPlace

fight over Ronald's car.  A girl who wears a t-shirt

saying Brat for Life tries to drag It IS all about me

off the seat while Spoiled Rotten Princess waits

for a chance to swoop in.  Before our child arrived,

we took turns in France driving a car as tiny as a toy

past indecipherable signs, but now I understand

at least the one at every roundabout which insists: 

Vous n'avez pas priorité.  It doesn't matter what

direction you’re coming from, how smart, rich,

old, or beautiful you are.  Whenever you approach

an intersection, you must yield in the presence of others. 
 

 

 

ACCIDENTS

 

It was an accident, my daughter says

to explain yet another spill or why

her younger brother's crying upstairs.

It was an accident, she yells so soon

after the crash it seems all one sound.

She carries the word like a shield,

a get-out-jail free card, a safe base,

protecting her from any punishment. 

After all, when accidents happen,

no one's responsible.  I try to explain

when a glass falls after she put it on top

of the stepstool on top of the chair on top

of the couch, she can't call it an accident.

But, even as we talk about how our actions

may have unanticipated results, I recognize

the appeal of her position, and I wonder

how much of it we could adopt.  Why not

consider disappointing dinner parties,

bad gifts, awkward kisses, as accidents?

Every horoscope could read, "Today,

you will be involved in an accident."

Headstones could have the inscription,

It was an accident, an explanation,

not of how we died, but how we lived,

the way our curiosity and desire resulted

in breakage, odd collisions, lives full

of consequences, mostly unintended. 


A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joe Mills has published three volumes of poetry--Somewhere During the Spin Cycle; Angels,
Thieves, and Winemakers
; and Love and Other Collisions, just out in February 2010
--as well as numerous works of fiction, non-fiction and criticism.









                                    

 

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