The Funeral Procession

"Why did we pull over mommy?"
I said, wiping the sleep from my eyes.

Often when driving on one of those
long, straight, back roads of Kansas, 
the flicker of the rows of corn would
be just enough to lull my mind to sleep.

"We've stopped as a sign of respect."
A cloud passes over, dimming the world.

I look out the window on the other side
and see a long train of cars, all with flags
hanging from the windows, all packed so
close together, driving slowly. At the front,
a long black car, bigger than all the rest,
with lights flashing, the engine of the train.

"Is it some kind of parade?" I asked.
"It's a funeral procession. They are taking
the person in the front car to be buried.
Whenever you see the cars like this,
you should pull over to give them room,
show them respect, and pray a Hail Mary."

The sun comes out again.
The corn stalks in brilliant gold.
The sky is a bright, Kansas blue.

Twenty years later, on some,
long, winding, New England road,
the forest, a dense green around me.
The sky is grey. My window is covered
in little drops of rain, pushed away
by the wiper blades screech.

Ahead I see the cars, with flags and lights, flashing. 
(give them room) (show them respect) (pray)

I pull to the side of the road, but I'm alone. 
Cars race past me, splashing up rain water,
honking at me. I put on my hazard lights.
My hands are gripped tight to the wheel.

The left lane,
the slow-moving procession.
The right lane,
the speeding drivers.
The right shoulder,
me, parked.
Giving room.
Showing respect.