Louie Bowman Almost Killed Me


Louie Bowman

Years ago, a two year old
Runs outside after church,
Down steep steps to the sidewalk,
Trips, falls down and rolls and rolls
Down the embankment,
Out into the street
Just as a car is pulling up.

Louie Bowman is arriving to
Pick up his ailing Bessie.
He sees the young boy rolling down,
Red hair flying. as out into the street he comes,
Rolling right in path of his car.

Louie yanks hard on the steering wheel,
Pulling as hard as he can to the left.
But he feels the right front wheel
Hit something and he panics,
Braking the blue-green 1948 Ford
To full stop in the middle of the street.

He hears the boy screaming,
Adults running, and it takes
A few seconds for Louie
To process that a scream is good.
In order to scream, the boy
Must be alive! Praise God!
He wipes his brow and sobs.

The wheel of his car had only
Grazed the side of the head
Of the little boy named Freddie.
The boy will forever hold memories
Of rolling out into the street
And the rush of the car toward his head,
Vulnerable, helpless in front of the church.

It was only the first of many times
When Death swooped close to Fred,
But left empty handed. As an
Adult, he counts about ten.
Together, they form a web within the mind,
Surrounded and held by patterns
Only partly formed by things that never were.

Whose life is really their own?
Control an illusion, from the day
One is born till one breathes no more.
A child tumbles and rolls into the street,
Only a moment too slow to be killed,
Remembers the story seventy years later.

He counts on fingers the many times he
Could easily have died— car accidents,
Falls, near drowning, illness where he could have,
Should have died, odds objectively calculated at
More than 99.8% that he should have died—
Yet he lives and breathes and finds love, purpose,
Mission, determination from the whole of life.

What of your life? What is the shape of your Web?
Does it sparkle in mornings from dew?
Does it shimmer in the arch of years?
Where has it led you, vulnerable, lucky,
Disposed to exertions of will….
Spun by spider as agent of the Hand of God?
Strangely translucent, mysterious as prayer—
Do you notice each day of your life?

Everything we do belongs to a world
We have not created by ourselves,
Has its history before history
For better and worse. For millennia,
People have pondered such webs in the stars,
Seen omens, cast spells, studied
Visible and invisible webs we call destiny.

In ancient scripture,
God tells Moses for Israel to designate
Six cities of refuge “so that anyone
Who kills someone inadvertently
May flee there for sanctuary.”
Those who kill with weapons cannot live there.
Accidents were contemplated
With great deliberation by highest authorities.
Would Louie had lived in a city of refuge
Had I died at the age of two that Sunday?

Roads leading to cities of refuge were to be well marked,
Free of obstacles, wider than regular roads,
So those who have killed through hand of fate,
Unwittingly, might proceed without delay,
Not be alone with their regret or guilt….
Poor old Louie came close that day, as close
As the little red haired head to his wheel.

Was that one of the reasons Louie and I were friends—
Years later while I was in high school,
Invisible bonds from me to him and he toward me?
I only know we never spoke of it. I wish I’d gone
To thank him for my life, to express my gratitude,
Told him I would be okay now, he could relax.
Something terrible never happened.
And it deserved attention.