Athena Kildegaard: “A Story About What to Cherish”


A man and woman stood on the shoulder

thirty feet from their car, which was aflame.

The couple did not touch one another.

Her purse hung from her arm, black

and buckled. On the back dash was a furry

lime-green thing, something won at a fair

and gripped on the Tilt-a-Whirl. All this

I saw as we passed on the interstate,

harvested fields beyond the burning car,

its back seat loaded to the ceiling.

If that couple was at all like us, they had

in the back seat the last things carried out,

broom, ironing board, the heirloom silver,

photo albums labelled in cursive. I could

see the smoke long after the couple had

disappeared from view; even now, I see it.

Athena Kildegaard is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Course (Tinderbox Editions). She teaches at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

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