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The Daily Commute

by Josh Huber

I like to walk.

Walking there’s lots of room and time for reflection, meandering thoughts, whimsical tangents, observation, prayer, and, you know, exercise. 

Plus there’s always the chance my mind will fall down into my feet as I go, creating the  approximation of some mystic two-headed beast–persistent and purposeful as an angel–rhythmically pattering over the earth, blessing every bit against which they press.

In such moments, flying as much as walking, I can float cloud to cloud in an atmosphere of memory and meditation. Here, for example, appears perspective dozing, a two-word jot from an Elizabeth Bishop poem I haven’t read for years. And suddenly I imagine perspective having fallen quite asleep. As I meander past front yards, the squirrels loom up as large as houses, tails whipping like animate chimneys. Side-yard garden sunflowers appear as tall as coal stacks. Sidewalk ants scurry along as big and sleek as black sedans. My own two feet bloom like twin buildings as I shuffle across cracked cement expanses as vast as continents. And more: trees, pets, fellow pedestrians, passing cyclists, various forms of leafy detritus, fire hydrants, orange construction cones, clouds, and sun, and sky. 

All too much. I shake my mind from my feet, perspective out of its nap and continue on in a once again well-proportioned day. 

Later, walking once more, finding my way through a local university’s grounds at dusk, I’m struck by an arch of words etched deeply in stone: Wise will be the bearers of the light. I suppose. But, more importantly, who chose those particular words to brand every season, every occasion in this place? 

Consider–round me the tides of night rise. On the campus quad, streams of dim lit sprinkler water jut above the lawn before descending to bury themselves in the earth’s rooted black. My own shadow falls long and split, cast by competing electric lights in echoes of itself wrapping arcs of variegated dark all around me.  

I stop to watch a swirl of dusk birds (swifts, I think) turn frenetic loops around a graying rooftop. I listen so hard I think I can almost hear the distant  insect buzz and batting whirl of their feeding. I imagine little invisible angels slipping from under these birds’ wings and drifting down to alight among us. 

These are tiny angels (or is perspective dozing again?). Each possesses their own marvelous expertise on matters minute and wonderful. Once landed, they set themselves to constructing miniscule siege works from which they might grasp at our shoelaces. They are angling to trip us toward stillness. Like new parents they plot elaborate measures to get our perspectives properly sleeping. Creatures of light and dark, they hope to teach us the wisdom of dreaming. 

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