There is often no way of knowing if we, or those we love, are in imminent danger. Even a loving gift can place someone in the path of possible destruction.


Finally granted permission

to sleep out like true Indians

they settled in the tent

for the night.


Chatter and giggles

floated on the breeze

to cover nervousness:

each pretending to be ‘cool’.


They lasted until ten o’clock

~ not bad for their five and seven years ~

then they burst into the house

accusing each other

of being scared.


Their bickering was silenced

by a crash against the back wall:

a parked car

had put itself into motion

gained speed

as it rolled down the yard

come to rest

with the garbage tin wedged

between it and the house.


The tepee

I had designed and sewn

with difficulty and love

that wonderful invention

with roll-up windows

and painted motifs

the gift they had treasured

for weeks

and was to have sheltered them


was crushed

beneath the wheels

of the car.


Amidst the commotion

reality dawned –

my children had been spared…


For years

I have thanked providence

for ghost stories

and sibling rivalry.


c. Kathryn Coughran ~ 1994


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