by Kae Bucher (Fresno, CA)
(a tehillim for Israel)
Along highway 180
(amidst swerving vehicles, angry-fisted drivers and crushed steel
from the accident on the side of the road), I pray
Please let whoever was in that car be okay
and help me get home
without getting hurt or hurting anyone.
Hot air from an open window pummels my eyes
and I squint, stretching my left foot
away from the sweaty plastic floor mat
A sandal slips under the brake pedal and I suck in sharp alarm,
adrenaline and ice. Out of the corner of my eye,
heat waves ripple over palm trees.
On the other side of the yellow line, paint flashes and grills rip
through my mirage of safety. A foot closer, and they become Hamas rockets
that won’t stop firing
36 projectiles at homes, cars
glass shards, shrapnel
two pregnant women hospitalized early
May the little one emerge at sha’ah tovah,
a goodly hour, an hour of ripeness and readiness for entering this world
in health and joy.
Out the window, the traffic dwindles
I recover my footing,
pass a palm tree and a carseat in a mini van
before melting back behind my steering wheel.
Under a Kerem Shalom sun,
another Red Alert siren sounds.
Families jump out of cars—
mothers and babies run for shelter,
grandfathers hide in stairwells,
and uncles throw themselves on the mercy of the asphalt,
covering their heads.
When the wailing stops,
those who survive
come out of hiding
resume their lives
I turn on the air conditioner,
look for the exit to take me home.
Since graduating from Fresno Pacific University, Kae Bucher has taught Creative Writing and Special Education. Her poetry appears in The Rappahannock Review and Awakened Voices Magazine and is also slated for publication in The Seventh Wave. Her first short story, “The Lost Names of Kaesong,” will appear in the upcoming edition of California’s Emerging Writers. You can read more of her poetry at www.bucketsonabarefootbeach.com.