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Stages

The oaks and maples and ginkgos make me gape. Add an overcast sky to their new growth, and you’ve got “vegetation.” Unfortunately, I’ll get used to it as the season progresses; thankfully, I’m not there yet. I crane my neck, gazing at the lush canopy. I’ve never had a wreck watching the trees, but I could.
*
I do not shiver. I hunch. And as I hunch, I grumble, becoming for the moment one of those characters who talk to themselves on the sidewalk. On my way to the gathering where eager writers will plot their professional careers, I yank the string on my hoodie, I curl my wet toes in their sandals. How, I scold myself, could you have ventured forth so ill-prepared? Do you have so little love for your cold toes?
*
Back at my house, the river rises, invading the trees. We are in a flood but because two years ago the water seeped into storage sheds, rolled across the cemetery, triggered the building of emergency earthen dams, no one’s crediting this pitiful performance. “Ennh,” they shrug it off. The next day when I take my dog for a walk along the edges of the island, she peers down the riverbank and pulls up short, shocked by developments.
*
Moving my niece from her college apartment into our guest bedroom, I cart in a box containing a translucent UFO that might be a table lamp and—I swear to God—a ukelele. Everything goes up the stairs and into her new quarters where she can sort what she needs for the summer and what she doesn’t. As I set a jumbled box of papers on the futon, I think, if this were my life, that box would still be sitting there, untouched, come August.
*
“Stages,” they call it when the river rises and falls, as if the spreading water were just another actress searching for her rightful place in the floodlights. I think they’re wrong—surely I can find a way into the business of life without giving up life—but what to do I know? Then I remember: here at my house, I have a pair of green wellies.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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