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As I am sitting at the stoplight under the maple and oak and cedar trees
I see three tiny kids skiffling and shuffling and skittering and scuffling
In the leaves—bigleaf maples, mostly, but also some oak, and a serious
Drift of fir and cedar needles—duff is the word for that, a delicious one,
Is it not? They are maybe five years old, these three moppets, and I hear
Their bus groaning a ways behind me, but they are totally into sculpting
Little hills and ridges of leaves, and I can hear them giggling, and in one
Minute the bus will hold out its arms and absorb them, and the parade is
Starting to move in front of me, but for another perfect instant I can hear
And see them skiffling and giggling, and smell the sharp savory death of
The brilliant leaves, and see the shoulder of the mom or aunt or neighbor
In the lee of the apartment building, where she is just lighting a cigarette,
And we get these moments all day long, don’t we, we get them all month
And week and year all our lives, such a flood and flow of them, too many
To count, too many to endure, they are too generous and savory and holy,
We could not bear to see and savor and sing them all; we would go blind.
But without them we would starve and wither and shrink and shrivel. We
Know that too. Maybe custom and habit and the quotidian ramble are just
The things we need to keep us from being overwhelmed by the profligacy
Of miracle, the huge of the tiny, the gift of every single thing there ever is.
But we also peek and glance and notice the light through the bars we built.
I bet you are like me and you crave the unbearable light but bless the bars;
And if ever we needed a wry working definition of human being, that’s it.