. Remorseless Back on 19, returning from the lake, Where she had stowed sling chairs for next week’s meet, Her car broke down. She checked out what she knew, Glad to have parked securely in the grass. She wondered whether to put up the hood, Decided not to stay, but walk instead, Then wished for one of those newfangled phones, But more for a state trooper (“yes ma’am” type). The distance to Five Points would take an hour, And look! An armadillo scurried off. Her purse was ready, crackers added from The glove compartment. A car slowed down behind, Expensive one, late model, well maintained. The driver, middle-aged and nicely dressed, Hallooed and brought out something from his trunk, Leaving it open, and rapidly came close. Too close. A small stiletto pierced her blouse. He told her to get in the trunk. She balked. The knife drew blood, and she trod carefully Around both cars, then climbed into that trunk. He slammed it shut and laughed and started up. Not many minutes on, a left-hand turn. She knew the way, but he drove far beyond Familiar stretches, turned again, off pavement. He shouted out, “Are you alive back there?” Her silence angered him, and he began Obscenities, an incoherent stream, To tell what he was going to do to her. The car jounced wildly over roots. The driver Stormed and coughed and sputtered, gulped for breath. He knew the naughty words but lacked expression. He stopped, got out, and left the door ajar. Malicious wolf near prey, he barked, “Remember! I’ve got the knife!” He sprang the lid, and light Stark-blinded her, despite her readiness. With feet pressed hard inside the license plate And shoulders firm against the back seat wall, She fired. Again. Again. She’d planned to empty The revolver, but his corpse collapsed On top of her. She pulled herself aside And up and out. Keys found in the ignition She took, and heaved his dangling feet inside. Closing the trunk, she retched, then vomited, Again, again, again, and braced her back Against a yellow pine, slid slowly down To settle at its base. When calm enough, She drove out of the scrub and toward Five Points. The police extension station, farther on, Received the stolen car with wanted convict Dead inside. “Ma’am, are you okay?” “No,” she replied, “I need a Dr. Pepper And a tow truck for my car along 19. I’ll buy fresh ammo later. Thank you, sir.” . Poet’s note: The incident occurred near Highway 19 in central Florida. A car trunk, in British English, is the boot, the hood is the bonnet, and the license plate, the number plate. A state trooper is a police officer with wide-ranging jurisdiction. An armadillo is a small wild animal that looks armor-plated. A stiletto is a dagger with a thin, narrow blade. Much of uncultivated rural land in Florida is considered not real forest but overgrown “pine scrub.” Dr. Pepper is a soft drink. . . Margaret Coats lives in California. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others.