Tipping Point

Larry Pike

That frigid Saturday midnight
my mother’s car rolled
out of the garage
after me because I failed
to park four wheels
on the plane of cement
then compounded my error
by leaving it in neutral
and not pulling the hand brake
I learned much
more about physics
than from all the deadly
high school lectures
I had dozed through
though Mr. Stanfield
would’ve been fascinated
by how nimbly I grasped
concepts of gravity and
equilibrium and mass
and escape velocity
the moment before
I braced
one hand and foot
against fifty-year-old brick
and the other on
the approaching icy steel
trunk and bumper
to save the house
and my bones
only to have
my bravura flattened
when I plucked
woody shreds
from the undercarriage
and had to concede
gnarly branches
of frost-burned shrub
had seized
a passing axle
and arrested
the fugitive compact
before a crushing impact
and the last time
I was home
those limbs still jutted
in the cold dark
like my dad’s arms
while his voice rose
as blood beat
in his ears
wondering
just what I had done
this time.


Larry Pike poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including most recently Capsule Stories, Jelly Bucket and Halfway Down the Stairs.  His collection Even in the Slums of Providence is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His poem “Burned” will be included in the New York Quarterly Foundation’s 2021 anthology Without a Doubt: poems illuminating faith. He is a retired human resources manager who lives in Glasgow, Kentucky.

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