Dear friend, I wake in the night

wondering about the life we’ve forgotten—
how we could get up each day and walk
to work or take our children to school
even before dark had lifted, knowing
no fear other than from strays that slunk
in the alleys, occasionally baring their fangs.
And the blackbirds that roosted in the trees
and power lines did not yet look
like a congregation of undertakers,
waiting for our bodies to fall in order
to take them away. Some say that to look
at the past is to cultivate a purposeless
nostalgia. Some say it was foolish of us
to believe we could leave the side doors
unlocked, the lamp shining, for the one
with the late night shift; while we climbed
the stairs and went to bed. Outside, on the curb
near pools formed by rainwater, geese hunker down
amid the green fern. In a neighborhood near the beach,
we heard hundreds of them were carted away in trucks
to be euthanized, because they populated the roads
and vehicles could not pass. This is what I mean
when I ask about where we were before this
moment. Maybe only twice in the last decade
have I experienced falling short of what I owed
at the till, and having the cashier fish out a few
coins from the tip jar to make up the difference.

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