By Josh Gottlieb-Miller

Univ. of Houston, PhD Creative Writing 2021

Dan saw a car skid out on the other side

of the highway—hit some black ice,

the barrier—engulf itself in flames. He had


a kind of existential crisis

about not being able to stop and help.

About not stopping and helping.


A kind of existential crisis?

I want to know which kind. Snow

dancing in wind off the frozen lake,


shadow calligraphy, spring supposedly

on its way. Fish wait beneath the surface

of the water. I’d secure my oxygen mask


first, before I’d help the person

next to me, I say, but that’s

the right thing to do. I thought what I’d said


would get through. I need help now,

Dan says. Kids wander further

onto the water. Dan believes in ghosts


because he hasn’t been haunted by one.

What if it was you, Dan says,

sitting next to me on the plane,


and I secured my oxygen mask first?

I want to hold his hand with my brain.

But after that, I say, then you’d help me.

Question: How does Josh Gottlieb-Miller’s poem conjure thoughts and desires of connecting with people during this challenging time?