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David Walker

If We Were Connected

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1. Day After
Janet flips the page of her newspaper
and starts mouthing words as she reads.
Kyle slurps up soggy frosted flakes
without taking his eyes off the Sports
section. Janet sighs, “Mother and child
killed in car blaze on I-91 yesterday.”
She is reciting. Kyle says, “Hmmm,”
and dips below the surface pulling up
just milk this time. “Jeter hit a pair
of doubles.” He dabs his chin
with a used napkin. “Asshole.”

2. Eighteen Miles Out
I see a deer just past the railing. She doesn’t
seem nervous. Not like I always imagine
them being. This one is uprooting
daffodils a few feet from the highway. Cars
are gridlocked for miles. Far off I see smoke being
slanted against the sky like a just falling domino.
Someone honks and the deer darts away
from the highway like a flicked marble.

3. Concussion
The mother awoke with one thought:
I need to fix that leaky faucet.
Water was beginning to pool
in the sink.
She could hear the timbre of the droplets
change as the puddle got bigger. Then –

why did she think of her brother-
in-law? A
carpenter with calloused thumbs
from years of quick inspections. He
once drove a nail
through his left thumb and kept
hammering because he couldn’t
feel it. Maybe it
was the sound she heard close to her ear:

like a saw going through wood.
What was that? It must
be morning.
The sun was bright and felt a lot closer.

4. The Man With the Knife
was the only one
who stopped.
Years ago his friend had told
him about a study:

A person is more likely to be
assisted in an environment that
presents less potential rescuers
rather than more.

The man supposed
that this
is what was on his mind

when he decided
to stop. Then

he was perched on one knee, contorting
his back to get an angle
that allowed him to
at the mother’s

seatbelt. A crumpled-up accumulate like

a used tissue was this car
blocking one lane of
traffic. The man saw what could
have been unpackaged
steaks strapped

into what remained of
the passenger side backseat. He
heard gasoline

accumulate on the ground. A pounding

More drops sought to
unfurl the pool
into a stream like a tongue;
taste buds throbbing for a well-

known source of combustion. The man
dug deeper into the belt, moved his
tongue around in his mouth. The knife sounded
like a saw

going through wood.

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