A Buddhist monk, exiled from Thailand, broadsided the car
of a local woman, age 20. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
He survives with serious injuries. — Marshall Independent, Summer 2000
Days after I’ve read the front page, my mind returns to the scene
of the accident. A familiar crossroads framed by early summer cornfields.
Late afternoon, the sun hovering high, so close to summer solstice.
Didn’t the monk see the oversize red stop sign, hear and feel
the vibration of tires passing over rumble strips etched into the road?
But no trace of skid marks. No time for either driver to brake before impact.
Some accidents are like that. Blind siding us no matter how familiar the route,
how aware, awake we are, or how faithfully we’ve sat in daily meditation.
And haven’t I have been all of these?
The victim, following the rules of the road, still unsafe, vulnerable.
The intersection, unconsciously aiding and abetting fatal collisions.
And the monk, missing signs, warnings, speeding on to that place
where I do harm accidentally.
"The News in Southwest Minnesota" by Marianne Murphy Zarzana, from Farming Words: A Harvest of Literature at a Prairie College. Edited by Bill Holm and David Pichaske. © Southwest Minnesota State University, 2007. Presented here by poet submission.
Art credit: "Closeup of Rusty Old Stop Sign," photograph by © Ron Chapple (originally color).