The crossing guard
stands straight as a board
in the middle of the crosswalk,
his feet firmly planted
on the asphalt,
flush to the white line.

Dressed all in white
like an angel come to Earth,
he appears immaculate as
if he’d been photoshopped.

He raises the STOP SIGN
high over his head
in his right hand.
The onrushing stream
of cars and trucks
comes to a halt.

The children stream
across the crosswalk.
An endless stream of them,
screaming as children do.
Walking backwards,
talking to friends,
making gestures and
laughing as lines
of children do
when they are let
loose from school.

And then there are
the ones who walk alone,
heads bent and
eyes to the ground,
who secretly glance at
the growing stream of traffic,
wondering what it would
be like to sit behind
one of those wheels.

The line of waiting cars
grows longer and longer.
Some have started to honk.
Others rev their engines.
The crossing guard stands firm.

He switches the STOP SIGN
to his left hand and raises
it even higher, yet his shirt
is now stained by perspiration
and his posture has begun to sag.
Shifting uneasily from one
foot to the other, he looks
toward the end of the line
of streaming children.
But there is no end in sight.

The children continue
to stream across the crosswalk.
Screaming children.
Laughing children.
More and more children.

Until one car breaks free
from the pack and strikes
the crossing guard down.
And others in the endless
stream of traffic
soon follow.

Appeared in Jamais Vu

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