An Angle on Life

I’ve aged uneven
growing legs of a different life.
I tilt through this world.
Part-short, awkward clop, clop, clop of a semi-molded limb.
I’m six or eight or ten – alone again.
If playground distances are measured to the nearest pal,
my book, my wall, my shade made my continent
and I or he or the sniffling, shuffling boy
still waits at the edge of creeping shadows
for someone to toss a ball.

Yet the long leg swings scythe-like
and perhaps, I harvest too much gathering
the stories of others. I carry
enough to be an older man. Across one shoulder,
the lessons of mortality –
beginning-middle-end-beginning-middle-
while my pockets bulge with friends, acquaintances –
the suicide, the attempts, the rapes, the deaths –
these wrinkles that have only to appear.

In old tribal initiation rites,
the medicine man, a heel in each hand,
with prayers and pushes and pulls,
would hold a child,
stretch the legs long, even,
then bring home a man, a woman
into a full striding village.

I stand behind you
in line for the bus noticing your
lean. I’d ask your story,
but I don’t need that leg longer.
Yet if you stumble,
perhaps I’ll reach to you,
or if I trip, you may catch my
balance and for a moment,
we’ll mistake it as dancing.

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