It Is

Bikes drop to the ground.

Kids gather around.

They ask him.

“What was that sound?”

He does not answer.

Stares at his feet.

They grab his collar.

The crowd wants to see.

“It’s just a dead bird” one of them hollers.

They are disappointed that there is no show.

Back on their bikes.

Off they go.

The deepest of sorrows pulls him down to his knees.

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It is just a hatchling.

Its bulbous eyes are shut hard and tight.

They say to this world.

“Not yet.”

Its wings are splayed.

Its skin is bruised.

Its chest rises.

Falls fast.

It takes short, quick breaths.

This world is heavy.

Too heavy for its tiny frame.

Others are needed.

No.

Others are expected.

To nurture.

Protect.

Keep tiny ones safe.

Not forever.

Just at the start.

But, even then.

When frames grow big.

Grow strong.

Others are needed.

This world is too heavy to be carried alone.

He grabs a leaf.

“What are you doing?” a malingerer asks.

“I need to put it back” he says.

“It’s only a bird.”

“I know. But…”

“But, what?”

Wells of water are forming in his eyes.

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He has swatted flies.

He has stomped on ants.

And, well…

He felt nothing.

Nothing at all.

Not a rush.

Nor their suffering.

But, he recognizes this.

It was hidden.

Forgotten.

Not any longer.

He remembers.

Helplessness.

Defenselessness.

Vulnerability.

Fragility.

Being welcomed to the world by violent hands.

And, now, he has done the same.

He was big.

It was small.

He used this differential to get what he wanted.

Not his mind.

Not his imagination.

Not his courage.

He wanted to dislodge the golden globe from the tree.

He did.

He wanted to bring it down to the earth.

He did.

He threw projectiles.

Conspired with gravity.

He wanted to know what it was.

He now knows.

It is the mystery given form.

A time.

A place.

It is a constellation of paths.

One true.

Many false.

It is two questions.

“Who am I?”

“Why do I exist?”

It is a beginning.

It is an end.

It is a sequence of choices in between.

All of them mediated by a culture, context and community.

It seems linear.

It isn’t.

It is the possibility of time passing on while staying stuck.

It is a scuffle.

“I am…” in one corner.

“You are… ” in the other.

It is getting lost.

Being lost.

But, it is never ever staying lost.

The answer accompanies the last exhale.

It is being hurt.

It is being helped.

It is not knowing what you are supposed to do next.

It is joy.

Happiness.

It is pain.

Loss.

Suffering.

Inflicted by others but mostly by one’s own self.

Dissipating the former takes compassion.

Dissipating the latter…

Well, that takes a journey.

Up.

Through.

Down.

And, then out of the dark.

It is the invitation that shatters his shell.

He is numb no longer.

His newly found sensitivity is going to get him in trouble.

He wipes his eyes.

He tucks in one wing.

He tucks in the other.

He rolls the hatchling onto its side.

He slides the leaf underneath.

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He folds the bottom of the leaf to cover the hatchling’s feet.

He pulls the right side of the leaf up and over its chest.

He does the same with the left.

Now carefully packaged, he cups the hatchling in his hands.

“He’s picking it up!” the malingerer cries out.

Bike tires skid.

Ears prick up.

“He’s picking it up!” the malingerer cries out.

Handlebars turn.

Smiles grow with every rotation of pedals.

The crowd reassembles to chants of “Freak! Freak! Freak!”

The crowd surrounds him to chants of “Freak! Freak! Freak!”

The crowd tells him who he is “Curly head freak! Freak! Freak!”

He draws the package close to his chest.

Backs up against the tree.

Steps atop a root.

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Contorted faces.

Flying spittle.

Pumping fists.

He sees the crowd for what it is.

Fear.

Fear of someone taking a different path.

He also sees them.

They are leaving homes and meeting halls.

They are stepping out of stores, schools and churches.

They are exiting cars, trucks and buses.

They are waving each other on.

They are pointing in his direction.

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