On Hearing a Siren

I said this was a month of love poems, but they want a collection all their own. I do hope you are still celebrating Valentine's Day!

On Hearing a Siren

Even though I was on a bicycle
pumping diligently up a hill,
I had a flash of wondering
do I have my registration, license?
was I speeding, ran a red light?
Sweet relief to look down at the metal frame,
a contraption that wouldn’t run out of gas or break down
(flat tire not withstanding),
I could cause no harm to my or another person.

I once read about monks who used
the telephone ring as a call to take deep breaths.
My kids and I used to say out loud “angels”
when a siren stormed by,
we liked to imagine them clearing the road,
rushing ahead to help those who were hurt.
I am of late, upon hearing loud wails, double dipping.

With the next few miles of pedaling,
I took a moral inventory
and was relieved to find my transgressions
could be listed in the distant past,
a credit report almost cleared.
Cheating once on a boyfriend, check.
Hitting a child, been there.

Boozing. More than a bit.
Stashed beer bottle under my car seat,
a quick drink in the parking lot
when my kids ran in before me to warm up
for their concert, I slunk into the theater seats
swallowing light burps.
Road pop on occasion,
a six pack cracked while my man and I
drove through forest roads to a hippie hot springs,
what fun it was to arrive to the vegetarian buffet
hamburgers and french fries, winter ale sloshing,
The biggest digression, once we got sober,
missing the slight naughtiness, the bad ass babe.

It is true, I am no longer filching
nail polish from drug stores
or lying about my whereabouts, sins of youth,
but yesterday I raised my voice at a child,
a man came to the door selling magazines
and I thought there but for fortune go I,
placing him a rung below me,
until we spoke and he mentioned scripture
reminding me as he had learned,
in our quest for translucence,
in our yearning to be a clear vessel of love,
we must first accept ours and others' humanity.

We are all ultimately forgiven,
and we can lighten the load.
It is not for self-righteousness that
I attempt the best version of myself,
yet for the selfish freedom.
I hope someday when I hear sirens come close,
I’ll think, I ain’t got nothing.