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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 14: August 2022
Poem: 289 words
By Julie Weiss

Story I Don’t Tell My Son on Our Way Home
from the Emergency Room

Once upon a time, two men 
dressed as civil guards stopped 
a woman who was travelling alone 
on a long, dark road. 

Much like this one, I might have said, 
had I chosen to tell my son 
the news story that often thrashes 
under the chokehold of my mind 

while driving at night. Words 
so shallow, they barely hovered 
over the newscaster’s lips before 
slipping into the tomb of past 

headlines, all dust, bones, and haunt 
of memories gone astray. If we know well 
the lanes death takes, how it trails 
our days like wet footprints, waiting 

for us to falter, to crash or ebb 
into its arms, why haven’t I forgotten 
this one? My son invents a whale 
of a tale, oblivious to the devastation 

of light tidal waving through 
the back windshield, shattering 
all one-hundred billion nerves  
in my body, as if, by some freak 

lapse of anatomy, they’d never 
grown sturdy enough to withstand 
a crisis, unleashed, this time, 
on a routine journey between towns. 

The headlights are so intense, 
I’m drowning in their intentions. 
I drive one mile under the speed limit, 
hands on the wheel at ten and two, 

berate myself for hurling our corpses 
into the tragedy of a metaphor 
even before anyone pulls us over. 
One day, I’ll ask my son if he heard 

sirens at all, or something like 
the shrill cry of a maimed animal. 
I try to hush him as I map out 
an escape route, then listen: 

his voice jingling like a spill 
of golden coins. Fear turned rage. 
The mother whale beneath the surface 
of my skin emerging, surging us to safety. 


Julie Weiss
Issue 14, August 2022

(she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. She won Sheila-Na-Gig’s Editor’s Choice Award for her poem “Cumbre Vieja,” was a finalist in Alexandria Quarterly’s First Line Poetry Series, was shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite’s 2021 Micro-chap Series, and was named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize. She is a two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her recent work appears in Gyroscope Review, ONE ART, Sky Island Journal, and others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.

List of publications and other details are available at her blog:
Welcome to My Renaissance

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