I was friends with a poetry student for a summer in Syracuse back in the 90s. Her name was Betsy, and she was a totally exciting person. She was driving me to go swimming one day, and on our way I remember she was reading from books as she drove. She was in love with a poem that she read to me from behind the wheel.
I didn’t stay in touch with Betsy, and I have no idea where we were swimming outside in Syracuse, NY. But I remember the end of the poem she read went, “not dead, not dead”.
I just thought of her the other day when I was looking for swimming lessons for my baby. I searched the internets, and I’m pretty sure this was the poem:
By Roger Fanning
My car passed over him but I could see
in the rearview mirror he was okay.
Then again, is a thing so soft ever safe?
I drove on to sit by a bed in Intensive Care,
where my father slept among machines. As if grateful
for wet grass, the frog wept with all his skin,
so happy, so helpless: not dead, not dead.
I totally relate to that frog. Today! Today! Today!