? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 4

Contest Winners

Jeanne Wagner

The Place In Between

His car a carcass of creases and dents, of side-swipe tattoos, of metal sheathing scarred by untimely brake-slams and slow-reflexive swerves, because at ninety-two, nothing is automatic any longer, the past riding his bumper hard, clouding his windshield, stealing the air from his tires. But he wants me to know how careful he's been, even the accdient before this one wasn't his fault; the road's so dark in the hills at night. Even his insurance agent said these things can happen to anybody. And this time, he was just about to park in his driveway when he heart this funny crash (his car uncoupling the stones in my fence) and immediately he applied the brakes, which for some reason didn't work (he was airborne by then, and falling). He says, I guess there must be a poem in it, and I think he's right. I saw it in his cartoon-like stare, as he took in, not my bleary window or the road he left behind, but the place in between, a gasp too narrow for gravity of will, where the black oak's branch grazed the side of his cheek and he thought by God's hair.