You Were No Accident

For all those who died before their time, and to their families.

i.

I don’t know you
but as I rushed from the bus to the station
there was an unsettling emptiness
and that’s when I noticed the tape and the tent –
there was so much blood.
You flowed from the pavement to the middle lane,
refusing to go quietly, in protest against the wrongs done to you
where the paramedics and traffic wardens were waving motorists away.
People from the peak hour crowd paused
for a while, some took photographs, others stood by watching.
But all I felt was a muted churning of dark blue paint and
grey liquor well up within me,
then sink deeper inside.

I don’t know you
but I recall your name on the lips of my sister and
the crazy poses taken at her birthday BBQ and
as I sat alone at my dining table looking at your photograph,
I suddenly lost my appetite.
Your smile, naïve positivity and youth rent my cool front asunder
the what ifs and could have beens drowning in my self-conscious state of
being starkly alive, not dead, not you,
the wringing of my senses like a dry rag as I thought about how
senseless it seemed that an operation could go wrong
(wasn’t it meant to right a wrong?)
and rob you of your life instead

ii.

I wept.
I wept for you and what was taken from you.
There is no fairness in accidental deaths.

I wept for your mother who must have smiled or
cried or smiled and cried when
she first held you in her arms, thinking,
This life is sacred, so precious.

I cursed.
I cursed doctors who don’t know any better
who for shame defile the Hippocratic Oath.
How do you repent for a mistake that claims a life?

I cursed drivers who speed like human lives are worth
beating the peak hour jam for.

Your life must have been beautiful,
so sacred and precious for even in
death you touched a stranger and made her
see that no accident could erase you so easily

iii.

You live.

 
Photo Credit: SayanBhattacharjee2517 Flickr via Compfight cc


Esther Vincent

Esther Vincent is a poet from Singapore, who teaches Literary Arts and Literature at the School of the Arts, Singapore. She writes poetry that resonates on both personal and political levels and believes that poetry should empower, not exclude, engage, not evade. She was co-editor of a poetry anthology, Little Things (2013) and the accompanying Teacher’s Guide (2013). Her poems have been published in New Asian Writing (Nov2016), Unhomed (2016), Sound of Mind (2014), LIVEPress Pilot (2014-2015), Little Things (2013), Ceriph #4 (2011) and in Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine Editorial 13. Her poem, “Excuse me, what is your race?” was translated into Russian in To Go To S’pore (2013) by Kirill Cherbitski. She is currently working on a new collection of poems.

4 thoughts on “You Were No Accident

    1. Esther VincentEsther Vincent Reply

      Thanks Nicole. I appreciate your words of encouragement. I witnessed the aftermath of the road accident a couple of years back after work and the public’s nonchalant reaction to it made it seem like the deaths of the victims didn’t matter. I thought about it all the way back home and something in me wanted to scream out at the injustice and tragedy of it all. The reference to my sister’s friend is also real and very sad, although I did not know her friend personally. These two incidents, plus the early deaths I know of childhood friends made me want to write to commemorate all who have lived and died (before their time), and to those who have lost loved ones to such “accidents”.

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