Friday, October 24, 2008

"There Are No Bad Fridays"

Another oldie... Originally workshopped that same semester, but it started the semester before, fall of 1999, when Shannon died. She wasn't my cousin, or even an extremely close friend. She was just this girl I'd known since 2nd grade through church and private school. Her brother was one of my "boyfriends" in second grade; he and Brian used to fight over me on the playground. Brian died in a car accident when we were seniors in high school. I didn't go to his funeral. It's more complicated than that, but when Shannon died four years later, it through my world for a loop. I scribbled a few lines of this the weekend of the funeral, didn't complete it till months later, then added/changed a lot during that workshop the next semester. When I dusted it off again recently, I made some more drastic changes.

“There Are No Bad Fridays”

the man on the radio says, but I disagree
today as I drive through sheets of rain
toward my cousin’s funeral. She was nineteen,
her boyfriend was behind the wheel. He lies
in a hospital bed, stable, in pain. I was almost
afraid this morning to get in the car.

The radio plays on, a constant drone
of scripted words and recycled songs
blurring into a noise as nearly white
as the sky. I should be remembering her,
at holidays and parties, as a child
and a teenager, and a woman just starting
to grown into her beauty, but the radio
recalls last night’s conversations,
and the later kisses, and thoughts
flow through my mind as quickly,
as pointlessly, as the sound. I shake
my head to clear it and focus
instead on the rain.

This is a bad Friday, I think,
annoyed with the voice which said
everything is fine, and I glare
at the spray flung onto the windshield
by the truck in front of me. I realize
I am tense, that I keep tightening
until I am squeezing the wheel
with both hands, hunched over,
an old woman at twenty-six, straining
to see. I make an effort to relax,
uncoiling, pressing shoulders back
against the seat, and I try to look
beyond the tail lights in front of me.
Rain falls in waves, rolling down
the glass, splashing off. We are,
all of us, back in the womb on this highway,
securely wrapped in glimmering cars
while water holds us separate
from the outside world.

All I can see is the color of rain,
the pale grey fabric of clouds unbroken
by sky, and I know the weather won’t change
today. I feel the truth of the falling sky
as I navigate the slick pavement
that glows in my headlights. The truth
is that the radio tells lies, the leaves
change color and die, the rain
always falls downward, and all
we can hope for is to grow old someday.

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