The National Catholic Review

Maybe it was the scraping and flung petals, the orange
degrees of your voice, saying, Yes, saying, Okay, saying, I did.

Too many things happen quickly. Like the bullet
shot into a mattress. Like this morning when I wrote

in my journal, a careful, silly decision: I paid attention to the loops
of handwriting, the diligent rhythm of the porch swing,

a finch with her breakfast among the mulch and roots.
And I didn’t think the Thud I heard was a car crash

because even the word Thud was too slow. If it happened at all,
it happened Dihh. Then a man and a woman stood on the street,

peering at footprint-sized dents and a little steam. There wasn’t even
the Reee you hear in movies before a crash. There wasn’t any such time.

The man and woman squinted, exchanged cards as you would
cheap gifts, embarrassed and slippery. So little time was wasted

even the sunshine was not inconvenienced. Watching, I felt a defeat:
I thought things would slow. I thought time would thicken into some

painful pudding around the bodies, reducing the speed of eyelashes, glances,
gesticulation. Instead, it was: I slept with her. As quick as the final

stage of birth, the way the pushing and moans slicken
into an immediate red life. Your words bulked enough to allow

that weightlessness of confession, but your tongue lay, far more inert
than a tongue should be in such moments, for if anything dispenses time

shouldn’t it be the tongue, the twisting wet muscle that will form words
days and weeks later, words to take the sting out, like bamboozle.

A wonderful deceleration for the mouth, that word: our fingers
meshed in the carpet, our faces down, speaking into air that snaps

and syrups, speaking, and each syllable falling
like the placenta, like thirty shekels into your hands.

SUSANNA CHILDRESS recently completed her M.A. in creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin and is now working toward a Ph.D. in the same field at Florida State University. She has received various awards for her poetry and

Recently in Poem