Some think of youth as synonymous with innocence, 
of childhood's landscape as a time uniform and

unmarked until its transformation. Yet emperors
and successors of the Dalai Lama were chosen

even before they reached the age of five. They're sweet
as children are, giddy in a room full of favorite toys;

they 'd cry when tired or sleepy. But they reached out,
touched oracular items as if they recognized them from

a former life—sandalwood prayer beads, a ritual drum.
Where we are in our ordinary lives, it's the start of another

hot summer. Blueberry bushes speckle witih fruit that don't
even make it to ripeness since the birds are early with

their hunger. Still, there's enough to fill crates arriving
at the farmer's market; and abundant stone fruit, lacy kale,

lush peonies. Later, when we walk through the neighborhood,
our grandson points out anthills, hollows where he thinks rabbits

burrow; which among the leafy clumps amassed at the base
of trees are poison ivy. Already, he seems wise beyond his years.

He listened to his father tell a story about a shoeshine boy
not much older than him, making his way in a big city

during the Depression years—that boy kept no more than
a dollar of every earning, saved the rest for a houseful of

siblings. On one of the hottest days, this boy shaded his mother
with an umbrella as she pulled the trash bins to the curb.

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