I Saw Death Today

By Queena Mast

I saw death today.

If I could just imagine away
the twisted car,
the men in orange vests holding the traffic at bay, and
the fierce lights flashing red and blue.

I wanted to replace them all with the sand and surf,
and walk nonchalantly by that strong young man,
his chiseled arms golden brown in the hot noon sunshine,
reclining in his beach chair, arms limp in sun-sleep,
with a white towel over his face
to keep away the sand flies.

I saw his form for only a second, on my way home from an ordinary shopping trip.
The white cloth on his face made me long to surrender my day —
to give up my to-do list in favor of prayer for all those hurling about in cars.
Instead I busied myself with the duties of my home —
chicken and rice to put in the oven, garden vegetables to chop and roast.
I picked too-ripe tomatoes from our chaotic but robust plant.
Bending down, searching through tightly twisted vines,
my quest for food crushed out the sharp smell of green leaves.
I’ve always hated that bitter smell.
Deep in the dark middle of those vines lay the fallen ones,
a pile of red potential wasted on ants,
and a few bloated yellow cucumbers.

I cannot reach them all.

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