Mostly they’re struck down suddenly while crossing the street,
meeting their fate completely unaware,
with no time to register surprise, or even anger;
or they fall from a ladder while cleaning out the gutters
during the most beautiful day of Autumn, they’re favorite season.
Instantly there’s a hole in the sky through which they’ve ascended,
and an incredible hole in our hearts which never quite closes.
We walk around stunned, or sit and stare far too long
at a traffic light until the blast from the irritated driver behind
awakens us, a blast from the one who would be sympathetic
if only he knew.
Or our comrades slip away after traveling
that long road of Alzheimer’s Dementia, Cancer or any other
of the diseases encountered along roads on the roads we travel.
Regardless, it leaves us breathless, bereft, left behind,
and we wonder if it’s best to be struck by lightning,
leaving only a puff of smoke and light ash,
or to have time to mend fences, or reflect on the joys of our lives;
the rush of first love, second love, and all the loves that followed.
But we miss them, feel cheated, aghast that the universe
doesn’t think more highly of us than to steal away our loved ones.
And when they reach their unexpected end and beach their boat
upon that distant shore, we wish we’d have spoken with them more,
asked after their joys and griefs, reached out, been a better friend.
Mike Aleman grew up in a Mexican-American household of readers. His father read Spanish and English, and mother, only English. He spent many happy and fulfilling summer hours at the library and its park-like surroundings.
Mike became an English teacher, taught lit and writing for 30 years, and had a grand time. Now retired, he writes at will, and reads stories, novels and poetry over KPBX, Spokane Public Radio.