"May Day"

Your face painted white,
you weren't allowed to speak,
being "dead" as you were.
I'd been happy
to order your lunch
even laughing,
as I tried to understand
what you wanted
but I just couldn't read your lips!
All the same, it was an enjoyable task,
though I couldn't talk to you
while we ate.

Later, you showed me the index card
that stated your death;
killed in a brutal car accident,
the same as the other
white-faced student volunteers.

Though each card
read something different
for each accident victim
and never did I dream
they would be so
detailed and awful.

Your arm had been
ripped off
and a long slice of metal
had gone right through
your chest.
Your face was cut,
your body bruised,
and you suffered
from a concussion
as you bled to deathright there in the car
because help wasn't near.

They determined your time of death:
11:00 am Thursday May 4, 2003.
Your friend, who'd been driving drunk
survived, and the car was totaled.

My heart lurched
as my stomach
clenched and twisted inside.
I hadn't thought
it would be so scary,
that those words would seem
so real,
so specific,
and so gruesome.

They weren't written
about just anyone either,
but you,
my best friend.

Suddenly this
wasn't fun anymore.
You stood in front of me
alive and well
yet,
I wanted to cry.
It could have been you
and it could have been real.

"Every 20 minutes
someone dies
in a drunk driving accident."
That's what the black t-shirt saidthat you had to wear all day.
And it was too much to handle.

I could have been at the morgue
that very second,
identifying your body
saying, "yes, that's his arm,
and could you please sew it back on
quickly, so his mother won't see?"

I couldn't even watch the
mock car accident by your side.
Instead, I watched firemen
pull the students from the crushed car
through a second floor window,
staying inside
where the reality of it all
couldn't touch me.

And when it was all over
late that night
and I felt safe and protected
under the covers of my bed
the feeling
still lingered on.