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Iris Ouellette

when you hit the tree I wonder if you knew you were dying

did you feel your body breaking,

blood, muscle, and bone ground to a fine pulp?

did you realize that at your memorial

there wouldn’t be enough of you left to put in a casket?

did you know?

i’d never seen a car wrapped around a tree before i saw the picture of you in the paper

someone told me on a childhood field trip that “pound for pound, wood is stronger than steel”

i could see that then

your car was three feet off the ground, crumpled around the trunk like aluminum foil

we all told you to stop driving so fast

i wanted to put something of yours at the crash site

i’d seen the small memorials left by the side of the road for other people

but never had a person of my own to remember

broken glass, bolts, springs, washers littered the ground around the tree, its bark stripped away

i searched for an echo of you

for blood or bone

i didn’t want to find anything

i told myself that

but my chest burned when you weren’t there

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