My kids are I were driving home after playing hard at the Putty Hill playground.
It was the afternoon,
we were hot and tired, and for once I wasn’t in a hurry.
Perring Parkway’s speed limit is 50, if I remember correctly,
but you whizzed between our little Honda and a bigger minivan.
I didn’t even see you coming.
I think you must’ve been going about 75, because I didn’t know you were coming
and then all of a sudden you were gone.
My heart leapt out of my chest to see you moving so quickly.
I shuddered to think what could’ve happened
if one of us had been on our cell phones
or just in a daze
if one of us had inched over the lane markings, oblivious,
the way lots of collisions happen these days.
But we were safe, and even as the adrenaline rushed through me, I relaxed.
We were safe.
I shook my head and thought, “You’re going to get yourself in trouble.”
I watched as you swerved around to the right of stopped traffic,
not wanting to wait for everyone else to realize the light was green.
I watched as you attempted to veer left across three lanes,
to make your way to the left turn lane in a swift diagonal line
that didn’t take into account the laws of physics, objects in motion
objects at rest. Did you know it was going to happen?
Did you have any idea at all?
And then all of a sudden you and your huge sedan were airborne,
for one second graceful as a soaring blue jay,
graceful as 2000 pounds of flying glass, metal, plastic and human lives could be
spinning and turning against the blue sky–
You and your Pontiac flying, spinning over the median.
What goes up must come down.
the roof of your car pressed humbly to the black road
where it never should’ve been,
your nose facing oncoming traffic.
Wheels spinning in the air like a beetle stuck on its back
legs waving in a hopeless gesture of futility.
The underbelly of the sedan exposed for all the world to see,
Plumes of opaque smoke gushing from your tailpipe
Your world turned upside down.
Object at rest.
People rushed out of their cars to help you and your passengers
exit your car.
You were alive.
It was a miracle.
One of the people rushing to you
was the woman whose midnight blue CRV you hit in your blind impatience
the woman whose bumper you clipped
the bumper that sent you into a spin
in your frantic hurrying.
Where were you going?
I knew what was coming. People had their phones out, dialing 911.
I had my two kids in the car. We were hot and tired from playing.
I didn’t want to wait for the emergency vehicles to come,
I didn’t want to get caught in the mess.
And there were plenty of witnesses.
I put my car in park, picked up the remnants of your plastic hubcaps
which littered the road ahead of me.
I tossed those hubcap shards on the concrete median,
got back in my car with my two precious babes,
and we threaded our way past rubberneckers and parked vehicles
to the intersection you wanted to fly through,
the intersection that stopped you.
Did you wake up to the realization that nothing–
no appointment, goal or agenda–
nothing could justify such reckless driving?
I waited for the green arrow,
Shaken, but home.
I look at my children and I think
If we had left the playground two seconds earlier,
we might have been in a collision with that
sedan whose driver was in too much of a hurry
to think of the many lives he was putting in danger.
I kiss my children over and over.
They have no idea what we narrowly escaped.
Relief as I look at their faces,
as I touch their perfect fingers and hands and arms and legs.
Little hands clasped in mine as we walk up the steps to our door.
When I saw your car flipping and turning,
it wasn’t fear but anger that rose up to meet
the rising of your car in space.
I called you a dumbass
as I watched your car borne aloft
by the forces of motion and inertia.
Anger and disbelief as I watched your car return to earth
by the force of gravity.
And then relief to see you and your passengers exiting the car.
Now I’m hoping that you were reborn in that moment of flying,
spared from dying,
you were given another chance.
Don’t blow it.
Your next flight may not be so graceful.