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Stamps: Jill McDonough

30/05/2009

Accident, Mass. Ave.

By Jill McDonough

I stopped at a red light on Mass. Ave.
in Boston, a couple blocks away
from the bridge, and a woman in a beat-up
old Buick backed into me. Like, cranked her wheel,
rammed right into my side. I drove a Chevy
pickup truck. It being Boston, I got out
of the car yelling, swearing at this woman,
a little woman, whose first language was not English.
But she lived and drove in Boston, too, so she knew,
we both knew, that the thing to do
is get out of the car, slam the door
as hard as you fucking can and yell things like What the fuck
were you thinking? You fucking blind? What the fuck
is going on? Jesus Christ!
So we swore
at each other with perfect posture, unnaturally angled
chins. I threw my arms around, sudden
jerking motions with my whole arms, the backs
of my hands toward where she had hit my truck.

5292005Houdini_Harvard_Bridge_1

But she hadn’t hit my truck. She hit
the tire; no damage done. Her car
was fine, too. We saw this while
we were yelling, and then we were stuck.
The next line in our little drama should have been
Look at this fucking dent! I’m not paying for this
shit. I’m calling the cops, lady.
Maybe we’d throw in a
You’re in big trouble, sister, or I just hope for your sake
there’s nothing wrong with my fucking suspension
,
that
sort of thing. But there was no fucking dent. There
was nothing else for us to do. So I
stopped yelling, and she looked at the tire she’d
backed into, her little eyebrows pursed
and worried. She was clearly in the wrong, I was enormous,
and I’d been acting as if I’d like to hit her. So I said
Well, there’s nothing wrong with my car, nothing wrong
with your car…are you OK?
She nodded, and started
to cry, so I put my arms around her and I held her, middle
of the street, Mass. Ave., Boston, a couple blocks from the bridge.
I hugged her, and I said We were scared, weren’t we?
and she nodded and we laughed.

*

Jill McDonough lives in Boston with her wife, bartender and soprano Josey Packard.

*

Notes:

“Accident, Mass. Ave.” is part of the Stamps Project. Learn more >>

This poem originally appeared in Threepenny Review (Spring, 2008), and is reprinted with the author’s permission. It was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Jill McDonough’s first book of poems, Habeas Corpus, is published by Salt (click for more info).

Jill notes that the poem “refers to this bridge where Houdini jumped” (click for the amazing image). And that “the bridge is marked out in smoots” (click for MIT’s intriguing “salute to smoots“).

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One comment

  1. I don’t know anything about poetry, but I know what I like. And I like Accident, Mass Ave. Really!



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