Am I Destined for a Tragedy

June 6, 2010
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You read about them on the evening news
The unknown man who threw himself off of the Throgs Neck during a storm
The mother who strangled her daughter in a fit of rage over in New Rochelle
The disgruntled Yale professor who shot her colleagues during a faculty meeting

I’m watching a story about a drunk driver who plowed into the barrier on I95
And stopped traffic for nearly an hour
The reporter said he was a local
He must have played baseball and soccer for the local teams,
Spent his summers lounging about or attending camps
Waving a flag on the Fourth of July

His face must smile from a team plaque in the pizzeria
And from an old yearbook, he was probably a Tiger!
Maybe he kept his old football jersey in his closet
And an old prom picture on the mantelpiece

He must have driven the interstate with his friends
Windows down and music blaring
Or simply alone, coming back from a game or a date
Watching the sun slip down below the trees

He must have wondered about his life,
Stressed over college applications and exams
Like every other youth, he offered up his heart to charming classmates
So that it could be cherished, broken, and eventually returned

So, what drove him into the wall?
It couldn’t have just been the pressure on the pedal
Or the distortion of the alcohol in his bloodstream
(Twice the legal limit, sure to slow his reactions)

Was he frustrated by failure,
So accustomed to defeat that he resigned himself to it even before starting
Choosing instead to drown his impulses in a bottle of whiskey
And hold his keys greedily in his pocket?

Or was he a wasted talent,
Who frittered away his wealth of opportunity?
Was he forced to play Carton to a red-faced buffoon
And lament his missed chances?

Did he know, as he played, lounged, waved, laughed, loved, cried, regretted, hoped, lived, that his road would lead him to that fiery wreck on the side of I95?
I flick off the TV, place my glass on the table, and sigh my way to the window
Children’s careless laughter echoes and the sun reflects in the glassy sea
Above, a flock of seagulls swoop in a tight formation as they fly southward
The wind ripples the water and billow the clean white sails

Wishing for the wind to sweep away my memory, I watch as
One of the seagulls gets caught in a particularly strong gust
He turns over and over, helpless in the face of the unseen force
His wings struggle desperately as he tries to rejoin the group

I drink deeply, press my face to the cool glass, and listen to the wind





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