On My Way to Meet My Teenage Daughters at the Dentist After School
Lights flash red and white as we approach,
my youngest daughter and I.
Two of them—no three,
plus the first one that passed us
before the others shocked themselves into view.
That makes four.
On its own, speeding to its blocks-away destination,
a singing siren could be hopeful.
But the three left behind to flank the red and blue flashers,
and the yellow-taped, traffic-diverted section of road,
sing a different song.
Or is it already a dirge?
Before I see the stroller at rest on its side,
before the group of sidewalk gawkers,
some of them crying,
comes into view,
I hope in my squeezed and shrinking heart
that they made it through.
I frantically search for what
I desperately pray I won’t see—
willing each crunched car
and head of hair to be some other color than
A teenage boy with his head in his hands.
The spilled contents of a diaper bag.
An elderly woman sitting on the ground.
My relief is visceral when I’m sure the cars
and faces at the scene
And though I hurt for those who will receive
that heartbreaking phone call—
a life stolen or marred by simply being right here
a few, frightening moments ago,
I unsqueeze my heart to make room for the gratitude
of a mother
whose family is intact for another day.