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By Lowell Jaeger
Driving home alone, one black night,
straining through fog to stay on my side of the centerline
as the narrow highway twists and climbs.
At the canyon rim, the fog lifts, the road straightens
across drowsy miles of wheat stubble . . . .
Just me and the stars and up ahead
a cop’s emergency red-blue, red-blue, red-blue
pulsing in the sudden luckless distance.
And more cops
and fire trucks clustering
like magpies on roadkill.
I slow to the shoulder nearby.
Watch the yellow coats and helmets,
the black rubber boots, the badges and flashlights
jump to the pavement from their battle vans
to swarm an overturned semitrailer.
And beneath the trailer, a small grey sedan.
Just like mine. Except the roof is crushed flat,
windows still dripping shards of fractured glass.
Like mine. Except I’d stopped for cigarettes
ten miles and twenty minutes back.