I Could Not Tell
by Sharon Olds
I could not tell I had jumped off that bus,
that bus in motion, with my child in my arms,
because I did not know it. I believed my own story:
I had fallen, or the bus had started up
when I had one foot in the air.
I would not remember the tightening of my jaw,
the irk that I’d missed my stop, the step out
into the air, the clear child
gazing about her in the air as I plunged
to one knee on the street, scraped it, twisted it,
the bus skidding to a stop, the driver
jumping out, my daughter laughing
Do it again.
I have never done it
again, I have been very careful.
I have kept an eye on that nice young mother
who lightly leapt
off the moving vehicle
onto the stopped street, her life
in her hands, her life’s life in her hands.
Ever been unsure if you tripped or stumbled or just how you ended up splayed on the ground?
Ever have a child run over and say "Do that again - it was funny!", while the adults around you try not to stare at you, collapsed on the ground?
And what if your child were in your arms, as Sharon Olds describes?
I tripped Wednesday evening. No child in my arms, but a young girl did come over to ask the silly question. And the adults stared.
I'm pretty sure I tripped, but maybe I stumbled on my own feet. I could not tell. And I get to wear a hard cast for the next 7 weeks. I will never do it again. I will be very careful. Me and Sharon Olds.
I always liked her poetry. Now I know why.