Call to Adventure

Call to Adventure | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Black ice on Rappahannock River. Courtesy of Kari Nousiainen/flickr.

After the car accident I bought the game :: now when I close my eyes I see the cliff-sides and dense tree cover, the fog shrouded island and the shimmering lake :: I keep busy collecting ore, mining it so I can buy things, special carrots and outfits for every type of extreme temperature or weather event :: I barely remember sliding backwards across the highway :: I’m 100% there collecting mushrooms and insects and killing reanimated skeletons :: the music still in my head face down on the chiropractor’s table, swelling to its jaunty crescendo :: heat on my neck, my shoulders finally slumping down from what feels like their permanent position by my ears :: I’m thinking strategy, what fortress to attack next ::

When he puts my head in the crick of his elbow :: he tells me :: the other day, there was a patch of black ice :: he lost control, fishtailed first this way, then that, and :: cracking my spine at the base of the neck, the cervical spine :: was able to finally regain connection with the ground :: he thought of what I’d been through :: though, he was lucky, didn’t hit the guard rail :: Was it black ice? :: We hydroplaned, I tell him :: And since then, I’ve found the jewel-encrusted shield, sold the diamonds to buy the heat resistant pendant, unlocked the power to unleash lightning from my sword, traded what I scavenged from the wreck for the laser-proof hat.

Heat on my back to tell my muscles, stop :: I’m not seeing that dent in the guard rail where we hit it at 60 miles per hour :: not the U-turn across the highway to reach the shoulder :: not the blood I still can’t wash off my coat :: not the moment we told the EMTs we’re fine with the strange calm of adrenaline :: not the panic setting in each time I find myself in the backseat in the rain, someone’s else’s too casual foot on the gas pedal :: I’m in the forest :: I’m in the desert :: I’m on the snowy embankment :::

Once home, I climb up towers and jump off of them, gliding over the countryside :: swim up waterfalls, gather fish from the sea, scale mountains :: leaving my body, for once, out of it.

Dane Slutzky is a poet whose work has appeared in LEON Literary Review, Scoundrel Time, and hold: a journal. He received his MFA from Warren Wilson College and lives in western Massachusetts.
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