A few years back I was walking through the Safeway
parking lot, and noticed behind me a young mother
with a baby in her arms and holding a perhaps-four-year-old
girl by the hand. The girl broke free and began to run
just as the car in front of me began to back up.
I leapt forward a few very quick steps and scooped
the girl out of harm's way. Her mother, when she caught
up with us, kept repeating thank you thank you thank you.
I can still feel the nearly weightless body of the child,
her bones beneath so little flesh. I can feel the pattern
of her white eyelet dress on my arms. The reversing car
continued to reverse, seemingly oblivious to the drama
being played out in its rear-view mirrors, then lurched
into drive and disappeared from us.
I can't help but wonder how many times a scene just like this
has been played out, how many vulnerable beings pulled clear
in the seconds before certain impact? And how many times
has it been me behind the wheel of that car?
How many times has it been you?