Maybe death is like driving on a highway
and coming to a roadblock of blinding flashing lights
but your accelerator sticks and the brakes go soft
so you throw the vehicle into a sideways slide to stop.
The kind of stop you practiced on icy streets
in a small town with a small snow removal budget
so the streets were slick and there was nowhere to go,
nothing to do, with your freshly minted driver’s license.
A uniformed man with blank insignia
and blanker sunglasses suppresses a sneer
as he asks for your license and registration,
then takes them away without a word.
You try to explain but, over his shoulder,
he says open the hood and stay in the car.
So you wait until you smell gasoline
and get out and see a man with vacant eyes
sucking fuel from the disconnected
fuel line with a vacuum pump. Emptied,
you know you are powerless;
the twilight becomes noticeably darker.
Maybe death isn’t what you thought,
in a full sweat amid blurred action
with noise and suddenness and confusion,
then brief harsh pain and collapse in laced boots.
Instead, maybe death is endless visits to doctors
where blood work is ordered, ultrasound,
CAT scan, MRI, biopsy and in a flash
most of your yearly income vanishes.
Knowing that the stack of really cool T shirts
that’s been growing in your closet for years,
saved for special days and occasions,
is what you’ll be wearing every day now.