Glaringly aware of time and location.
Left home at 9:22 am, 22 minutes later
Than usual, for weekly commute south
To private practice in Olympia, WA.
Wisely-distracting tasks delayed journey
And protected from witnessing accident
At milepost 116, 11 miles from destination.
At 10:25 am, emergency vehicles
From various directions screamed
Past to assess, assist, and direct.
Traffic abruptly stopped to honor
Fatality 1 mile south, occurring
Just 10 minutes earlier: 10:15 am.
Had iPad, phone, lunch sandwich.
Sister Googled, found information.
Called clients to reschedule, and
Then called to reschedule again.
As traffic finally crept forward,
Veil thinned between realities.
Wave upon wave of sadness,
Prompting repetitive prayers.
Chanting CD played on car
Sound system: comfort, sent
Forward through aching heart.
Detour over overpass, glimpse of
Wreckage beyond recognition.
Tears streaming, offering assurance:
"You are safe. You are sad for family.
Rest easy now. We are here with you."
Arrived in office at 1:15 pm,
Accompanied by sadness,
compassion, grief, and
Permeating regular routines.
Miles of traffic remained jammed entire day,
Drivers silently honoring, cell phones buzzing.
Left office at 8:23 pm, following blue and yellow
(Sweden's colors) Franz truck creeping at speed limit.
Listened to same comforting, soulful chanting CD.
At first, traffic normal, until flashing lights
Signaled milepost 116. Thankfully, too
Dark to see aftermath. From milepost
116 to milepost 130, southbound traffic
Sat stopped on Tarmac in silent cortège;
Trucks and cars, bumper-to-bumper,
Headlights beaming, rear lights brightly
Lit by constant breaking; confronting presence
Of necessity to pause in face of tragedy,
To investigate facts, to form explanations,
To honor the dead and the injured,
To reflect upon universal vulnerability
And ever-present closeness of death.
Teeth clenched, heart pounding, and
Tears dropping as drove northward.
Finally, at milepost143, regained
Coherence, relaxed jaw, passed
Guiding blue and yellow truck.
At 10:15 pm, arrived disoriently
And gratefully home: glaringly aware.
Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 16, 2013