Ghazal on What Happened


My roommate got hit by a car and died. I was there when it happened.

My mind has hosted a private showing of it every day since it happened.


When Mary and I arrived at the hospital, a nurse led us to join Emma

in the waiting room where they send you when the worst has happened.


The next morning, I stood against the wall of the school cafeteria

with other teachers while our students were told what happened.


Colleagues old enough to be my parents held me—as if they were—

and waded through sobs to tell me they were sorry that this happened.


I drove home alone that day for the first time in months.

You’d be surprised how little I think about what could have happened


that night had I been a few feet closer. Still, I avoid jaywalking,

which my friends discover the hard way. My ex-girlfriend happened


to get back in touch with me a week after my roommate died

and she began to forgive me for some terrible things that happened


because I was an asshole. We got back together eventually.

I’m not sure what to do with that. Maybe not everything that happened


as a result was terrible. Or maybe I shouldn’t say that. I’m filled

with dread & excitement whenever I tell someone what happened


for the first time. If they’ll listen. Some do. Weeks later, I locked

myself out of my apartment and thought What the fuck has happened


to me? while I slouched around the neighborhood until

my landlord came and let me in. Nothing happened


to the driver. Right of way. That seemed fair. He was 34, and I know

I’ve been careless enough that something similar could have happened.


At the wake, an aunt introduced herself, hugged me, and whispered

You’re Jon. The roommate. Oh my god. You were there when it happened.

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