Small Citizen.

A few streets over, the neighbors are out with their little girl. She’s wearing a helmet and holds the handles of a pink bike that I’m nearly certain is new to her from the cautious way she thumbs the handgrips, as if still thinking through what this might mean. This alone is good news for this windy April day, a girl and her bike and an imagination sparking in her eyes. As I pass by, I wave, but the girl is in her world, and the adults are bickering about dog shit under the front yard’s single tree. I laugh because, well, what else? Been there, on both sides of that equation. When I return from the post office, the girl is making long slow circles in an empty street, the adults are leaning against a fence, sharing a cigarette, and the sun promises to shine all afternoon — cold, brisk, exactly what we expect in Vermont’s April.

And, for no reason at all, one of my favorite poems….

Citizen of Dark Times

by Kim Stafford

Agenda in a time of fear: Be not afraid.
When things go wrong, do right.
Set out by the half-light of the seeker.
For the well-lit problem begins to heal.

Learn tropism toward the difficult.
We have not arrived to explain, but to sing.
Young idealism ripens into an ethical life.
Prune back regret to let faith grow.

When you hit rock bottom, dig farther down.
Grief is the seed of singing, shame the seed of song.
Keep seeing what you are not saying.
Plunder your reticence.

Songbird guards a twig, its only weapon a song.

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