Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yellow Tarps

As I was driving up the I-5 freeway one day late last summer on my way to the post office, I came upon some traffic. It was at the Downtown San Diego S curve going north. I was on my way to the the Midway Post Office to drop off my works quarterly newsletter. A simple task...a routine errand. As I slowed down to heed the brake lights in front of me, my gaze moved to the left. There were flashing lights, fire trucks, police standing around, orange flares...warning us to stay away from the scene. Next I saw a smashed beige four door sedan of some kind. It was facing the wrong way on the freeway...sprawled out across the lanes...looking very out of place and too quiet. The next thing I saw was a yellow tarp. It was draped across the dead body of whoever owned that smashed beige four door sedan.

I held myself together for the next couple of miles. Once I pulled into the Post Office parking lot, I lost it. My thoughts going to the family of that person under the yellow tarp. How this day... that one moment on the I-5, would change their lives forever. The sadness and grief of that family ripped through me as if it were my own. And I suppose on many levels....it was. When you lose someone tragically in your lifetime (as I did my mother when I was seven)...you tend to have this supersonic ability to feel others' pain and loss. A sad moment like the one I experienced that day on the freeway turns into much more than a sad moment. It replays itself over and over again in my mind.

I can't stop imagining the mourning family... flailing around moaning and weeping as if they themselves will surely die. I try to picture what they look like. What their houses look like. I think of the dead persons belongings and how the family will perhaps walk around with these things clutched in their hands to try to be as close to the deceased as possible. Maybe the persons wife or husband will go to the closet and bury their face into their dead loves clothes.... to pick up the scent that they surely will never forget.

After that day I was turned upside down for awhile. I wrote the below poem during that time....

i called you all last night…

but none of you were her.
all i see is a yellow tarp.
laid over my brain...
i'm seven years old.
and thank god i didn’t see
the yellow tarp.
thank god...there was
not one for me that day.
but for her...yes. it was her
day. never mind her children.
never mind her youth.
and never mind their children.
the ones that die every day.
yellow tarp, draped.
across freeways.
across generations.
people are dying...every day.
and we sit and laugh as if
life is something that we
have a right to.
but, all the while death's knock
is at our back door.
ready to surprise us...
ripping and shredding
through our souls...
our hearts...our
tell me what you think
of when you see the
yellow tarp?
are you grateful
for your life? do you
understand what it
means to be ALIVE?
or do you think your life
is something
that is owed to you?
do you think that you deserve
it? and please tell me why?
freeways eating up our loved...
while public transport gets
eaten by big oil, automobiles.
of course.
and our freeways are killing.
oil is killing.
yellow tarps draped
across the world.
yellow tarp draped across
a human being. someone.
someone like me, someone
like you. tell me again
why you deserve
to be here? why you think
you're so special?
you think the freeway
won't get you? think again.
big oil won't shed a
tear. neither will

17 March 2009

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