Astatine in a Fantastic Car Crash
by Janet Kuypers
from the “ Periodic Table of Poetry” series
And our life is one big road trip now,
and we set the cruise control
and make our way down the expressway.
And most of the time we’re just moving
in a straight line, and the scenery
blurs. There’s nothing to see.
But I know what’s inside of you
and I know what you’re made of.
There’s no such thing as a calm with you.
You are a fantastic car crash.
You stop traffic in both directions —
In your twisted way, you come from the decay
of others… And what do you leave
in your wake? More radioactive destruction,
as all around you slows down to stare,
and all the gapers gawk, as the decay grows.
Everything shatters with you, you know.
It’s a spectacular explosion,
until your instability corrodes you down
to the basics in the world. And yeah,
what was left of you after you were gone
is so much more stable than what you were,
but still, I’d duck and cover
as metal flies through the air. Every time
you leave the scene of the accident,
I am left picking up the shards of glass
from the windows. You know, the glass breaks
into such tiny little pieces. They look like ice.
It takes so long to pick up the pieces,
and even though I’m careful,
I’m still picking up the pieces
after dealing with only fractional amounts of you.
I’ve only been able to infer what you’re like
by knowing your brethren,
while I’m stuck here, picking up the pieces,
and I’m still on my knees.
The glass cuts into my hands,
because it was only after so much
of your destruction that you left blood
dripping down to the street.
think of this as your contribution,
this radioactive short-term flash of decay…
think of this as your contribution
to this fantastic car crash
that is you, that is me,
that is us.
I’ve tried to learn, I’ve tried to study
these microscopic parts of you
to make sense of you…
But whether or not you ever leave enough,
despite your destruction,
despite this decay of yours,
I have to keep reminding myself
that when it comes to you,
This is what you do.
This happens all the time.
I to pull the glass from my hands
and I wave my hand to the line of traffic:
go ahead, keep driving, this happens
all the time, there’s nothing to see here.