The flapping of little feet is no great surprise to hear there.
One hears it often enough.
They squeal and speak and play and run
Throw their softball and miss their catches.
They do the things the heedlessness of youth permit them to.
But now and again the world is in the way.
The feet still run, the heedlessness and joy pervade,
But it takes a path it ought not.
Down the rows of cars it takes him.
Giggling, enjoying the feel of the summer grass between toes,
The freedom of running in the sunshine.
He runs there where those proud of their little players have parked their Chevys,
Their Volvos, their Fords along the edge of the road.
Down the row of cars it takes him until
In a moment of exuberance and lost in the joy of it,
He veers, running in ecstasy.
The harsh friction of complex rubberized compounds lock with the asphalt of the roadway
And scream agony against the forces that cannot be muted, cannot be stopped.
The sheer will of the laws of the cosmos will not allow the leering steel death to cease,
Though she weeps and cries as her foot forces the pedal.
A crunch, low and not at all what anyone expects
And the boy rolls through the air in slow motion.
Blink and he is finished, lying there in an off-center heap in the street
As the sirens in the distance herald.
The wind is from the north today.
It rustles the leaves and gently tickles the sweat on the back of the neck.
The trees sway and a distant sound of a bat hits a ball with a metallic “TINK”.
And we all watch.
We, the uninvolved but drawn watch as the boy lies in the street.
The officer kneels over him, careful but not sure.
And we watch as the ambulance arrives and men and women run toward him.
And secretly….though we would not say it to those who stand by weeping,
We think of our own and are glad they are not the one….