I

Walking along the busy path between buildings
Slush all over
Snow on the trees
Wet snowflakes falling like slow-motion rain.
A branch crosses the path.
Gnarled twigs intertwine,
Sticky feelers grab at peoples' legs
The smart ones (all of us) deliberately step over the branch.
Smarter still, one could pick up the branch and throw it into the bushes.
Nobody has yet.
Will I do it as I approach the twig?
As just a courtesy to others?
Am I so loath to kick a twig out of the way
For fear of standing out?
Of being pointed out? "That's the guy
that stopped, in the middle of this path, with everybody moving,
and picked up that stick and threw it into the bushes."
Am I so terrified
To do anything that deviates one micron
From the norm?
Who the --
What the hell am I?

Oh, well, it's behind me now.
Like my preconditioned reflexes lifted my legs
Over that obstacle.

I wonder what the guy behind me will think?
Will do?
As it draws close to him.

--Winter 1996


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