Car Wreck on Christmas Eve
Charlotte Pence

Standing in heels on double-yellow lines—
                          No man’s land,
                          Unfit for hiding,

I stared at the mirror of rain-slick asphalt—
                           Oil-calligraphy blues,
                           Taillight-straight reds—

And remembered the dashed line
                           Of blood tears
And peeling paint on Jesus’ cheek

Inside that windowless church in Mexico.
                           Not the fat calla lilies
Blooming wild all down the hillside.

Fabricated color of flesh,
And its insistence to flake away
                           To white plastic.

You, too, must have been looking at Jesus.

Don’t they require that of men like you, Father,
in need of a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve?

I chose the cold, the rain,
                           Even the car wreck,
Driving while looking backward,

Mistaking you flagging me down
From the roadside woods
                           As the nearly dead love to do.

No—it was just the weight of rain and wind
Taking down a pine bough.
                           My guilt, too, wrenching it down

As much as any named agency.
If you would have found me that Christmas Eve—
                           And maybe you did—

You would have pressed a red, wet face against
the window and yelled: Never pick up a man on the road—
                         now let me in.

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