Visibility at Zero

by Austin Kodra[easy-media med=”7932″ mark=”gallery-aEQ2Tg”]
Two chain-reaction collisions in dense fog on a highway in southeastern Tennessee killed 15 people today and injured more than 50.” – New York Times, Wednesday, December 12, 1990

This morning, even the keyholes between weedy stalks
bulge with cotton.

The riven vein of interstate and exit

clot with vapor pumped from the nearby pulp mill,

and those sunk and drowning in the sea of it startle,
their faces swirling in steaming pots of coffee.

Engine blasts.

Rigs capsized.

Glass jigsawed

like the body splitting open.

They are curled in ditches,

strapped to downturned seats, hurled through windshields.

They reach for children
who sit in desks at school,

pad across

the melting asphalt like it’s a pitch-black ballroom
scattered with loaded rat traps,
wait in milk-white bubbles of their own burning wreckage.

They pray for rope ladders to the sky.

They are almost touching.

And like them, there are more and more who hurtle past
hollow grain silos and billboards dredging this slipstream
of highway for penance, more who count the green markers
ticking each mile like minutes, more who never
have a chance to see where a fog like this begins
and where it ends, as out of the thin, sudden air,
appears a shipwreck of gnarled metal, an ocean of fire.

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