Nina Bennett: “Do Over”

2019 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize finalist selected by judge Eric Morago

I love when a poem tells a familiar story in a new way. How the poet reverses a tragedy back to those moments just before everything changes is quite clever—and incredibly relatable. Our own minds often do this when processing a tragic accident; we find ourselves returning to the moment of impact and constantly rewinding the events in our head. But what really works here, is the detailed visuals the poet uses to create a vivid narrative, and in reverse nonetheless. This poem demonstrates great skill and imagination, and is clearly written by a poet who understands their craft.

— Eric Morago


Do Over

Like a cripple at a summer tent revival,
my sister rose from the ICU bed,
flicked off the ventilator,
removed IVs and tubes.
Her chest expanded with each breath.
Intracranial pressure decreased,
brain no longer a bruised melon.
Blood pressure  stabilized.
Pupils responded to light.
Medevac helicopter blades reversed
direction, returned her to the road
that ran parallel to white water.
She eased back into her car, listened
to Paul Simon’s Graceland spill
from the radio until the Mustang
rounded the blind curve,
passed her Subaru.
She then off-loaded her kayak,
slid into the rapids.

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