The two-toned Olds swinging sideways out of the drive, the bone-white gravel kicked up in a shot, my mother in the deathseat half out the door, the door half shut--she's being pushed or wants to jump, I don't remember. The Olds is two kinds of green, hand-painted, and blows black smoke like a coal-oil fire. I'm stunned and feel a wind, like a machine, pass through me, through my heart and mouth; I'm standing in a field not fifty feet away, the wheel of the wind closing the distance. Then suddenly the car stops and my mother falls with nothing, nothing to break the fall . . . One of those moments we give too much to, like the moment of acknowledgment of betrayal, when the one who's faithless has nothing more to say and the silence is terrifying since you must choose between one or the other emptiness. I know my mother's face was covered black with blood and that when she rose she too said nothing. Language is a darkness pulled out of us. But I screamed that day she was almost killed, whether I wept or ran or threw a stone, or stood stone-still, choosing at last between parents, one of whom was driving away.
From Boy on the Step by Stanley Plumly. Copyright © 1989 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted by permission of The Ecco Press.