Roadkill Bodhisattva

A cardinal
the color of burning
collides with my car
and is snuffed out
but still warm, on the road.
I tuck a broken wing under
and close my hands around his body.
A red to shame geranium
and rubies.

I make a prayer for a bird
of jungle color
in the cold drab Midwest,
and remember:

"Blood is not red,
it is black,"
you told me, remembering
a girl, six or
seven,
who collided with your jeep
last winter in Costa Rica.

I imagine the redblack
sludging from her nose and mouth
into clothes
you had to throw away afterward.

We memorize these small deaths,
and the color

of Rumtek
monks in crimson rows,
wrapped in heavy red
who made throaty prayers for all beings
as you and I
stood speechless at the door.

Bewildering red.
Now speechless,
at the roadside,
I scrape a place in leaves and grass,
covering with green
yellow brown,
and drive away.

Melissa Williams

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