a crowded intersection in northern Vermont

i celebrate
four years of
sobriety
with a walk
and
an insulated vessel
of tea.

it is not
so early
though
early enough
that
the small streets
are
mostly empty.

it is not
so early
but
early enough
that
the only people
i pass
are those
compelled
to be there
by
the mindlessness
of commerce.

they look at me
disinterestedly
as i pass.

an old woman
in a wig
and a bright
yellow-green
raincoat
walks backwards
up a hill.

i am on
the pinnacle
of
the hill,
heading
down.

a set of
stairs
will allow me
quick exit
from
the hill;
i see
her,
walking
backwards,
her wig
like a pile
of knitting
atop
her head,
i look
to the stairs.

i decide
to continue
down
the
hill,
decide
to pass
this human,
decide
a smile
and
a good morning
might be
a pleasant
human thing
to do.

the morning is
early
but not so
early.
the morning is
cool
but not
cold.
in the channel,
next to
the hill,
seagulls
splash and
scream
in saltwater
that is black
and blue.
saltwater
that is green
and frothy.
the birds are
stunningly white.
i do not know
how
they keep
so clean.

i pass
the old woman
as she walks
backwards,
up the hill.
i give her
a wide berth
so as
not to
alarm her,
i look
at her,
look
at her in her
eyes,
i smile,
i say
good morning.
she looks
back at me
and
bellows
wait.
i stop,
still smiling,
say yes.
ask if
she needs
help.
you said
that like
you expect
me to
answer you,
she says
to me,
her tiny
voice
angry and
shriveled.
i smile,
breathe out
heavily,
maybe
it was
a laugh,
and keep going.

the bacteria
inside me
howl
with laughter,
they shake hands
and slap backs.
they push
each other
good-naturedly.
they are rolling
on the floor.
tears of joy
stream down
their face.

the human
of me
flares
with anger,
indignation,
despair,
at the stupidity
of our condition.

on a street
that is less
convex,
at a time
that is just slightly
later,
men in
big trucks
rumble softly by.
a few men,
naked
outside of
their trucks,
walk by
unsteadily,
on legs
spread wide
to keep
upright.

the bacteria
in me
are still
joyous.

the human
of me
is walking
more quickly,
making
direct
eye contact
with those
it passes.

the men
on the street
want to
appear
unafraid.
they all look
terrified.

the human
is made
of wax.
inside
the wax
is
a wick.
the wick
takes flame
and gives light
to human.
the human,
made of
wax,
melts away.

a small wooden path in mountain grasses and a few straggly pines is illuminated by the melting ball of newly risen sun.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

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