The Crash

I hear a crash and turn. A wall of flame Surrounds a car. I'm hollering your name.

The passersby first freeze, then screaming run.

The burning car is like a loaded gun.

A doorman grabs my belt to hold me back,

"That woman" —Woman!— "must be charcoal black."

I shout, "The cab that hit her . . . over there!"

The doorman pleads, "He doesn't have a prayer!"

I pry the door. He's married to the wheel.

He doesn't look alive. I reach to feel

His pulse. "You nut, get out before it blows!"

The cabbie's life is ebbing from his nose.

"Exhaust pipe's catching fire, hurry up!"

I pull him free and make my palm a cup

To stop his bleeding. Someone hugs his feet.

We lug him way past safety down the street.

I'm suddenly in Lenox Hill berserk, Bellowing at an intern, "Hurry, jerk!" A fire engine's siren tears the air, Then hundreds more — lunatics at their hair. The cabbie's face has dribbled into gray. I squirm from pats and handshakes, storm away. I won't look back as hoses douse the pyre. Remember how my greatest fear was fire? And if I was a hero, would you love me? At least, Marlene, you'd think much better of me.

— Frederick Feirstein

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