To those who stopped on Route Thirty-One
on Labor Day of 1988, not to watch
the sun rise from a pink and orange bed half-blind
but to cry for an ambulance — to stumble on two
feet clumping through weeds in search of
a copper van lying belly-up in the flattened fields:
To those who asked questions but never received —
who are you and where did you come from?
How can I ever repay your act of kindness?
From the future, I speak to you in this form.
To those who witnessed everything but said nothing
from those drunk-driving, pill-popping, and all the
addled teenagers in between lovers: you are every
bit a corner of this letter. Everyone knows that
the world does not exist solely between you
and the space you inhabit.
To the person resting his head on the wheel,
I wonder how you feel and what else you felt
when slamming your foot on life or death — soft
or metal. You closed your eyes for one sleepless
second and your wife, also sleeping, jolted
from her seat holding onto nothing
but your child, they burst out of the car door
like baby birds in flight
To my mother who tried to compete
against man and nature, your voice swallowed
by glass and gravel but hardly knowing
the difference then — four years later
again you fought when you pushed
me out of your womb.