"After The Fall" - Stephen Wack



We remember the caution tape

wrapped around the space you left

like a wavering halo in the early morning

sun, the congealed stain red like a bad mark on

the sidewalk that still wore your hair down

without your head, the silence of lips and chin

to concrete in one precise frozen moment—

harmless as a leaned over whisper to the earth,

“hello” or maybe, “goodbye”—just before

the concrete kissed you back


We remember the low hum

of college campus and Cobb County police

cruisers, news vans, radio talk shows heard

beneath the blasting heat of cars idle in traffic

for hours, the notebooks and study guides

sprawled out open like your body

in the laps of commuter students late

for 8 A.M. mid-terms, motionless,

an unexcused absence


We remember the investigation

the search for identification/motivation/explanation

for any potential culprit outside of academic stress

to push you beyond those guardrail limits

to somewhere/anywhere/but here, the disparate

reports of your gender/age/the time/ and distance

of your sudden plummet down six (or was it nine?)

stories of Central Parking Deck


We remember the possibility

of suicide never mentioned by the college

your fall chalked up only to a vague outline—

to foul play, to accidental slip, to being under

the influence of something other than yourself— 

with still no word from the toxicology reports

no way to catch you in mid-air like a cold


We remember the gossip

spoken over breakfast in-between lectures

echoed throughout the bathroom stalls

carved out dialogues in real-time threads:

     “just failed the fuck outta that test”

     “better go find a parking deck”


We remember the celebrity

of your person, how suddenly everybody knew you

loved you in secret, sat behind you in class

missed the back of your head in the exact

opposite way the sidewalk could not


We remember the denial

of death by your mother, who heard your voice late at night

just before bed, picked up and held you like

a child in the silver fillings of her teeth


We remember the lone photo

of you used over and over again, of how quickly a human body

of art may convert to a still life


We remember everything

except for your



*Miranda L. W., (3/24/1989 – 3/15/2010)

Stephen Wack is tonight's featured reader at Word of Mouth open mic, Wednesday November 2. Sign-up for open mic begins at 7 pm and readings start at 8 pm upstairs at The Globe, corner of Lumpkin and Clayton Streets in downtown Athens. 

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