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Even the kids negotiating friendships
on that yellow school bus racketing past
know it’s a different scenario
every day, not just the same elemental
hostilities like ocean versus sand,
tough places to make a living.
To see things
as they are, keep your eyes open. This morning
on the bay side of Egg Island I watched
as water instantly grew a head—a gray seal
arriving for winter, no being more seamlessly
suited to its métier.
Wings alternating black
and white will be another grand opening
if you lift your own head out of theory
in time to catch the orange-brown flash
and shift of snow buntings.
Knock those quotes
off “reality” and work with it. Yesterday
I had to set a blue-headed vireo
hitting a window against the way a merlin
running down a flicker screaming
just above my head—I felt both wingdrafts
passing—lost her this time in the trees.
Nothing like a little gift here
and there to help nudge things your way:
consider the nuthatches talking together
where suet’s hung in the striped
maple’s golden canopy.
Calculate, cultivate
the proximity of happenings to happiness,
and take your disappointments by the throat,
the way that preying mantis who cringed
childlike at the introduction of my stick
into her world grabbed it with both hands
the second time, manipulating it
to let me know how strong she was.

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