Yours will happen some dark night
On the long road from a family visit–
Perhaps when the planets next align
As they did last night: Mercury, Venus,
Mars, moon, Saturn, Jupiter–
Or when the sun is bright,
And you admire someone’s azaleas
Or catch a colorful line of wash
Blowing in the breeze.
Suddenly, you’re in a ditch,
Images swirling at the backs of your eyes.
I will be coming home from work
Scribbling fast to trap some phrase
About to slip through the sieve of memory:
Writing “fiddleheads of fern,”
Or today, “The Car Crash,”
When I looked up to face
Head-on, lights and sirens blaring,
A prophetic ambulance.
They will find me grinning by the side of the road,
A pencil clutched in my hand.
It is an understatement to say I do a lot more driving than I did before I changed jobs 18 months ago. Theoretically, I telework two days a week, but no week is the same. Today, for example, I drove 240 miles to present a 2.5-hour workshop.
In July 2006, I bought a new car for the new job, and five weeks later, hit a deer with it. More accurately, the deer slammed into me. I now have over 41,000 miles on this car, and I estimate that I have spent $4500 on gasoline in the last year and a half just to get to and from my office three days a week (not to mention traveling around the state).
The poem is not new, but I think of it sometimes on my travels. Mostly, I can ignore how vulnerable I am on the freeway around Atlanta and the highways of rural Georgia. (As Wally says, “Isn’t it terrible what we can get used to?”) Occasionally, the full impact of my lifestyle flashes clearly in my mind, and I have a strong desire to stop the madness–not to mention the violence I am doing to the planet.
For now, I will continue to do what I have to do in order to do work I love. And now is all we have, after all.