Fault (n.) It isn’t mine, as much as it isn’t yours.
This is a word that’s hard to find a home for.
It slides from hand to hand, falls flat on the floor and is stared at.
Even in the earth’s crust, rock and soil along faults cannot lie still.
Accident (n.) People don’t often talk about the best thing that never happened to them. Contrary to common assumption, you do hear people sometimes say, “I didn’t know what living was until I lost my leg.” By this we can understand accidents as unscheduled miracles.
Tractor mishaps make drunk-fathers sober. And me bumping into you made us both happy, for a little while.
Accidents are meant to happen in a way that makes it seem they were not meant to happen. They are disguises for the universe, and babies.
People cause accidents and then it’s hard to argue they were not on purpose, though they were not on purpose [see Just]. Like when you swing your arms for no reason and, similarly without ambition, a small child walks into one of them. It was not your intention to strike the child nor the child’s to be struck, and still the facts remain. The child cries, and this is why we have accidents.
Men have accidents, but Mother Nature has something else. When there’s a rampage of thrown hurricanes, big-spit floods, the difference between accidents and natural disasters seems fickle distinction. If we pick up where Goethe left off, about all that unnatural being natural, then an oil spill should be natural disaster, not accident. But we very much like our distinctions; however arbitrary, we think they make us and so we make them.
And make accidents.
Walking (v.) To start A or finish B, you need to first arrive at these letters. You arrive by walking.
One foot comes down in a miniature flesh-wave, then it is quickly superseded by the opposite foot. It would look as if these appendages were in competition, if not for their allegiance to the same body. This non-competition of foot replacing is walking.
There are all fashions of it.
Some swish their legs quickly and show great purpose even when getting up to use the toilet or reheat coffee. Oppositely, ankle-draggers carry their drink in thick strides and defy certain standards in forward momentum. But others prance on the balls of their feet, it seems their bodies have bartered with gravity, worked out something like 10% off. There are ramblers, pedalers, even people who will step upon you [see Crowd].
You can’t know what kind of walker you are, truly, only others can play witness. If you are proud, it shows, humble, it shows, didn’t drink enough milk at a critical age, yes, that, too, shows.
In church, or in a grocery store, you can stare long at old ladies who hobble with the loads of themselves all piled in one knot atop their backs. The forced steps, the way their feet seem over burdened by a zig-zag of upper-body, will make your hunched shoulder blades move back towards each other. You may consciously straighten your spine while you stroll.
I don’t go to church, now, or think so much about their walk, and my posture worsens.
But walking is important. Any vertical action requires walking as a preliminary step, and first steps can be cumbersome.
“Just walk away” is a confusing phrase. The ‘just’ is misleading [see entry on Just], as walking can be tricky when you’ve let dense rocks of emotion sink into your toes, or happen to have an invisible chain round your chest which allows you to go so far but tightens if you try to get fully away.
ALLISON CAMPBELL is the winner of P(28)'s poetry prize. She is in the second year of her doctoral studies in poetry at The University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers. Her work has most recently appeared in Harpur Palate, Witness, and Armchair/Shotgun.
ALF DAHLMAN is an illustrator who lives in New York.