Dead Birds and Trash Squirrels

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I’m in Philadelphia. This has been a childhood dream since… my childhood. Actually, visiting Philli wasn’t really the dream, it was just to see the Liberty Bell and other historical sites. Now that I am here, I’m less than impressed, but I’ve only been here for three days. And I still haven’t seen the Bell! It is loud and dirty, crowded and colossal. I’m broke and no one will hire me. The air has that dingy quality to it that big cities do; the effect of too many cars in too little space and too few trees to digest the pollution. The worst part of Philadelphia has been the dead birds. They’re everywhere. Like water from a well, the birds are drawn to skyscraper windows, only to be knocked unconscious and splatter on the pavement; a Jackson Pollock painting gone wrong. What’s even worse is that no one picks them up. They rot on the pavement. Wings stretched, cracked, flattened, bystanders side-stepping the Samaritan. It’s quiet sad, really.

If birds are the Samaritans of Philli, squirrels are the Ninjas. As I walked out of the dorm complex yesterday, I was overcome by surprise at one of the best sites I have ever seen. A gray squirrel- frayed tail, apathetic eyes- leisurely made his way out of a campus trash can and onto his spot of lawn a few feet away. I stared at him, speechless, and the little punk stared back. His eyes said, “Ha, bet you wish you could do that.” Then he took another bite of his Trash Surprise. I told my husband about the incident later that day, only to discover that he had seen the same thing! Apparently, this is a common occurrence here.

Honestly, maybe the reason I don’t like it here is because I’ve never spent an extended period of time in New England. It’s probably just culture shock. Maybe I just need to explore more, but I’m scared. I’ve never explored on a large(er) scale on my own before. So I need to make a decision: Will I be a dead bird or a trash squirrel?

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Stuck

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It is warm and

the grass slips between

your toes- silky, bladed ribbons in the dirt.

Shimmering rays

needle through the beams

above you

as you rock slowly back,

then forth,

then back again.

As a soft push with your stiff bare-feet brings a gentle momentum to the

swing; back and

forth, and back

and forth… You think,

“Where am I going?”

After Dinner

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Yesterday, after dinner, I hurriedly walked outside. I felt like I was going to suffocate. I began walking with my head down, staring at my shuffling feet as usual, and I quickly looked up to redirect my steps when the loveliest, most majestic thing captured my eye. The moon, a shimmering, white, solitary figure suspended in an atmospheric pool, surrounded by nothing but it’s own light, utterly alone. I stumbled for a moment and then leaned against the icy rail- and I stared. For moments. Ages, but not nearly so long as that poor celestial being has been in place. I began to wonder how many of Earth’s faces and faces on earth it has seen. How many horrors and sicknesses and tragedies and heart-stopping terrors it has seen, but been frozen- helpless to help- by it’s own fundamental being. And how ironic that the moon, which views all nightly tears, is meant to shed light upon the very things it wishes to stop.

Woe! For are we not as helpless in our own self-destructive illumination upon the very things in our lives which we wish to eradicate? Helpless by our very nature. Though we have strength it is only a shadow of the past day. T’would be happier to be overtaken by void than to be given a false hope from which springs only a viscous sludge of despair.

Despair, oh wandering faces. Despair.