The day the brakes failed on my father’s car
we should have died. What did I know of life
at eight years-old? It was nineteen-eighty-two
the roads weren’t equipped with guardrails
and rain drenched the swerve of asphalt
above the reservoir as our tiny Fiat
gripped the curve and my father’s foot
fumbled at the pedals. Out of the blue, leaves
lodged in my eyes, and I felt the absurd
thrill of flight – acrobats on a trapeze –
forgetful of the fact that we were trapped
in a moving vehicle falling through trees.
The patient water lapped the muddy bank
dozens of yards below. Like a tin spaceship
we hit the earth, struck down by sycamores
that caught our car as on a spider’s thread
before it plummeted past underbrush
and downward to the waiting reservoir.
My father split the windshield with his boot –
gave three hard kicks and the safety glass thatched
like an eggshell. He sent me scurrying up
to flag down help. From the blasted shoulder
our totalled Fiat was a soda can
crushed by a ogre’s foot, tossed carelessly
into the woods, an afterthought. Alone,
I waved down motorists, shrieking and pointing,
convinced I was a ghost until one stopped
while my dad disentangled our dog from the wreck
and scrambled up to meet me in the sun.
“We must be dead,” I told myself, “and this
© Marc Alan Di Martino
Marc Alan Di Martino studied visual arts and literature at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has been publishing poetry for nearly twenty years, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, the New Yorker, Innisfree, Gravel, Verse-Virtual, Snakeskin, Poetry Salzburg Review and other places. He currently lives in Perugia, Italy, where he works as a teacher and rides a skateboard whenever he can.