Kathleen McClung: “What I Forgot”


What did you say before the crash last night,
before six sirens pierced this quiet block
and someone sped into the endless light—

or endless dark—beyond us all? You might
have praised a Ferris wheel, a red-tailed hawk,
my new shampoo. Before the crash last night

perhaps we spoke of Portugal, the flight
we never took in March. Or did we talk
of someone racing by with no headlight,

no talisman to guard his motorbike
against collisions on wet streets? We walked
two stories down. After the crash last night

the ambulance left slowly from the site
we clustered, stunned. No race against the clock.
No clock. Our quarantine feels endless. Light

from neighbors’ windows filled our faces, tight
and masked. We left our doors ajar, unlocked.
What did you say before the crash last night
when someone sped into the endless light?

Kathleen McClung is the author of four poetry collections: Temporary Kin, The Typists Play Monopoly, Almost the Rowboat, and A Juror Must Fold in on Herself, winner of the 2020 Rattle Chapbook Prize. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies, including Southwest Review, Naugatuck River Review, Mezzo Cammin, Ekphrasis, Atlanta Review, Spillway, California Quarterly, Forgotten Women, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and elsewhere. She’s celebrating twenty five years of teaching at Skyline College and has also taught at The Writing Salon and privately. Currently McClung edits poetry for The MacGuffin.

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