Today's poem is by Gianmarc Manzione


When I tried to have a look
            at the wildflowers planted
                      along that strip of road

In Virginia, all those hues
            of pink and violet,
                      the three-ton truck

Whining to a halt
            just a small car's length ahead
                      of me, how could I have known that

When I strapped the seabelt
            across my youngest daughter's body
                      that morning—

My impotent protective gesture—
            I assigned her a fate
                      she neither earned nor understood;

The shrieks
            of my wife and children
                      jolting my eyes

Toward the coming catastrophe,
            announcing the cruel randomness
                      with which we'd been chosen

To die.
            And before flattening myself
                      between the truck and the road,

Why did the final thought I had
            include no fear, no concern
                      for my family

Nor what I'd done,
            but instead recalled
                      the wooden green turtle

I'd roll along the beach
            as a boy, and the ones who swore
                      they'd take it from me

Unless I ate a fistful of sand;
            how often I wandered back there
                      to recover it from the burial

They condemned it to
            after I ran away, digging deep
                      in the quiet ground of my cowardice.

Copyright © 2005 Gianmarc Manzione All rights reserved
from The Modern Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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