It was at once curious and horrifying
to know someone my age had died.
I didn't know her, but knew of her.
She lived in my town, almost shared my name,
my age, my church - making the event
my first encounter with death.
The reports lived in my nightmares -
in my sleeping and waking hours:
The school bus stopped at her house.
Her seven year-old legs hopped off the bus,
as the wind blew her papers out of her little hands.
She tried to retrieve them, but the bus
moved forward, her head under the crushing wheels,
her star papers skipping down the street.
Months later I'd sneak into an empty Sunday school
room to stare at the plaque with her name,
with my almost name, and wonder
what her mother saw on the street that day
before automatic stop signs, blinking
red lights and zippered book bags.