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The proper word is terrified.

Both of us.

You with your autumn acorn in hand,

Me with my gloved hands full of raking


You, terrified, because you must be.

Because in this season when you are hungry,

The hawk will be as well,

And the cat,

And the fox,

Each of them keeping a sharp eye out for you

And you keep an eye out for them,

And keep your nose to the air,

Because your eyes could never be enough,

And keep your ears open,

Because your eyes and nose could never be enough

To slow your rapid heart, you who live on the edge of death

From the moment you are born.


I, terrified, because you are

Because you are a living thing,

Beyond me. Out of my hands. Out of my control.

I cannot control you. I will not, because I cannot.

You are a thing that moves because it wishes to.

You gnaw upon an acorn, and I did not will it.

You scrabble in the dirt, and I did not will it.

You scramble up a fence post,

And I did not will it, nor imagine it, nor anticipate it.

You move according to your own mind,

And my own mind, in this moment, cannot comprehend


Perhaps a youth of video games has left me expecting order.

I order these creatures here, and those figures there.

I move them this way and that way,

And I know that they are under my command absolutely,

With no minds of their own,

No souls, no true life –

Their eyes look out from the screen but cannot see me.


You see me.

You are a piece of the world

That stares back at me, that wonders back at me,

That judges back at me.

Imagine if my rocking chair began rocking, empty,

As if full of a ghost – and then opened its eyes,

Met my terrified gaze, and then looked away,

As if I were just another thing to consider –


What an awful thing to compare a living being to a piece of furniture!

The living creatures of this world are alive

Because they are not furniture. They are the opposite.

If they are used, it is because they allow it,

And they move as they will, instead of being moved,

And they cry out, instead of keeping silent.

I cannot control them because I cannot.

God made a foolish promise, to give Adam dominion over all creatures.

Unless that promise was erased by the flood,

and replaced with the sign of the rainbow,

Then it remains, foolish and unworkable. Adam never had dominion,

Nor do I. The creatures of the world are their own.


And I am left mute with wonder and terror,

Standing before you in the autumn yard,

As you stand terrified before me,

Until we both turn away

And run back to our respective nests,

Warm and walled off from each other.

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