Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I Had Forgotten

Warm, wet night. I come home to a dozen moths flattened out in porchlight on the vinyl siding by the back door. Small, dull things with frayed wings, pitiful, dignified. Damp bits of feathery protoplasm nearing the end of their days. Empathy collapses at the starting line. Compassion surges.

What's that line from Neruda ? A veces me canso de ser hombre -- sometimes I am tired of being human.

What can be added to or subtracted from moths in the porchlight of a damp November night ?

Earlier tonight I was in an unaccustomed grocery buying gift cards for church Thanksgiving baskets. It's on a crowded bit of the town's main drag. The rainy night and the traffic were grating on my nerves. It had been an awful week at work and I came into the weekend unrested and jangled, dreading Saturday call and already dreading Monday. I'd been running a rat race on a treadmill with my nose and shoulder simultaneously wheeling and grindstoning and there was no end in sight.

Sunk in a foggy reverie, I watched the pleasant, helpful young woman at the service desk neatly label each card and set them in envelopes.

"Thanksgiving ?" she asked, casually, as she worked.

"Yes," I answered, startled, briefly awake,


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