How long could I´ve been weightless? / Colin Channer

Colin Channer’s was born in Jamaica, and educated there and in New York. His honors include the 2019 Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship from Brown University where he teaches in the Department of Literary Arts. Colin’s most recent book is the poetry collection Providential (Akashic), a lyric meditation on policing, loss and violence. His poems have appeared, or will appear soon, in Agni, Harvard Review, Prairie Schooner, The Common, Ruminate, and other venues. His many works of fiction include the short novel The Girl With the Golden Shoes, “a nearly perfect moral fable” in the words of Russell Banks. 

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HOW LONG COULD I’VE BEEN WEIGHTLESS?

After the smooth up-pull the car dove fish-efficient
in the tractor-trailer’s wake. By then the thick wheel

cuts had tapered down the long, curved grade then vanished,
leaving undulations in the drifts.

All the way from Montreal through French-toned 
Vermont we’d held to, mostly all alone, 

through night-time Massachusetts, the Berkshires 
rhythmic now, the rise and fall of roadways

lunglike, up and down, the black outside squelching
with each splat. The snow fell lazy-seeming 

but the mass had force to it, a will thrust like those 
of sea currents, and in the down rush the car’s 

back end began to flex. The side-muscling
came in series, ripples, quivers, pulse,

and I was in it counter steering while
the coffee spilled in the careening 

into, through, and out of, what the frost-dimmed
lights could see: all murk then,

the whole world untrustworthy, murk and 
splat, and splat and speed, and ridges:

the wheel backlit by dials,
the fingers and their grips

the road itself a reef and I was skidding, skidding,
tread and road unbonded into flight.

How long could I’ve been weightless?
Does it matter now? 

I reach now to recall what flew by me:
trees in kelp shadow, gelid embankments 

snow shoals, formations of a world
so much like ours, just under water,

glimpse of where we’re headed
by degree. 

Four wheels on the snow again,
clutching, shifting, easing down

compression bracing on
momentum’s rush I saw it:

deep snow swashed in fan pattern
to the breadth of the road

the white rig turned over,
red stamp on the side of 

it: strike of harpoon. What fluke 
of luck had saved me? Which flake

launched me to air/water,
racing my breathing, slowing me down?

 

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