Do Not Fail to Yield

The facts are simple. It does not matter how much you try to be careful: the speed of your body cannot serve you. You can never predict when a crash might happen. The best way to protect yourself is restraint. For your own safety, do not be fooled if you reach the object. Unless you accept responsibility, use a red cloth when it’s snowing. A little courtesy will not kill you. Plan for the turn. Avoid being hit by wreckage. Remember, you are only a witness.




At some point, you will have to deal with your body. Theft makes it more difficult to respond to sights and distance. You may be dangerous, the true name of escape. Regardless of where you are, join the procession. Allow the animal to pass. Your body will keep moving until you have cleared forest or open field, fire, salt water. Lose possession of your being. You do not need to provide proof.




The most serious problem is facing a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise. Smoke near the crest of a hill. Moved solely by animal power, work your way down. Gently. Salvage the unexpected hazards. Be patient. At your own peril tie a white cloth around an animal someone is leading. The phrase give your name means moving violation. You must go when it is safe.

Carolyn Oliver’s poems appear or are forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, the Cincinnati Review, Radar Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, Cherry Tree, FIELD, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Laurence Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review, the Writer’s Block Prize in Poetry, and the Frank O’Hara Prize from the Worcester Review, where she now serves as coeditor. Carolyn lives in Massachusetts with her family.