It is the summer before seventh grade. Today
is my grandpa Walter’s funeral. My Mom tells me
she doesn’t want me to go. Says they are not a place
for children. Says I don’t need to be subjected to death.

So instead, I watch lightning through the hatchback
of my friend Mary Anne’s red and white Pacer.
Her mom is driving us to a movie at the 99 cent cinema.
It is dusk and we are counting the seconds between

the thunder and the strikes. Each one
equals a mile, she tells me. And we feel sort of safe
in the trunk of her car. ‘Cause if the storm
gets any closer the tires will protect us.

And I believe this myth too. And we wonder
if anyone survives getting struck, as the bolts come
in rapid succession. And I wonder how I’m going
to die as I stare at the strobe-lit sky.

And I never noticed lightening was blue.
Or how yellow and thin he was. Or how bruised
my August-brown legs had become. Or the jagged lines
burgeoning from the corners of my parent’s eyes–

Or how when I close mine I can still see everything.
And I wonder how far his wake is from here.
And if my Mom is afraid.
And if she is counting the seconds too.