Note to Old Irishtown Road

by Karen Weyant | Apologies.

Note to Old Irishtown Road
After Brenda Miller’s “Swerve”

I’m sorry about that night I was late for my graveyard shift after I took that curve too fast near Ayrshire Dairy and I hit the line of raccoons crossing the road, the sickening thump, thump, thump, as if a single animal body had hit the wheels, the bumper, the hood of my car many times, when I knew it had been more.

I’m sorry for those hours afterwards, for standing in the factory parking lot, for staring at my car’s chrome grill, convincing myself that I didn’t see tufts of fur or a smear of a dark stain.

I’m sorry for a lousy shift, for dropping pieces I was supposed to load into the furnace, for the chipped splatter of powdered metal on concrete factory floors, for the heat that escalates in early August.

I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry to the foreman for every broken piece when what I was really sorry for was being twenty-two years old and being there, wide awake after midnight; for falling back into blue collar work even with a college degree; for disappointing my parents, who hoped I would be the one to break the cycle of night shift factory work in my family.

I’m sorry for deciding to take that back road, a shortcut I thought I knew well, and for not stopping, for not even slowing down, for barely glancing in my rearview mirror after that first thump. I’m sorry that every glint of light that night reminded me of the one raccoon left alive at the side of the road, its blinking pair of eyes shining in the shadow of sumacs.

Karen J. Weyant’s essays have been published in 3Elements Literary Review, the Briar Cliff Review, Coal Hill Review, Cream City Review, Crab Creek Review, Lake Effect, Potomac Review, and the Rappahannock Review. She is an associate professor of English at Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, New York. She lives, reads, and writes in northern Pennsylvania. Her website is She can also be found on Facebook.

This essay originally appeared in Punctuate (Spring 2016).

Share this on: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
This issue of Short Reads was 🌒 edited by Hattie Fletcher; 🚙 fact-checked & proofread by Chad Vogler; 🏭 illustrated by Anna Hall; and 🌌 delivered to our 1,404 subscribers by Stephen Knezovich.

Help us pay writers. Upgrade your subscription →
Miss an issue? Every Short Reads essay is available on
Want more like this? Subscribe to Short Reads and get one fresh flash essay—for free—in your inbox every Wednesday.