The Red Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

To park in usual nine-day position was impossible, so went to plan B, parking where there was a red plastic straw with a flared spoon tip, the type used for convenient store-bought slushies and slurping beverages. Walked, in the morning, to nine-post without seeing a heron: there were none in the cool and shady shallows and none in the warm bowls and straight edges of the creek. When I had near given up, content with finding a sycamore bark shape with two opposite notches in it like a jigsaw puzzle piece with two blanks and no tabs, the sight of a heron picking and pulling at its feathers made its way to me while a troupe of high school cross-country runners ran past along the trail, one by one. The heron was a bird in repose, at its grooming station or dressing table, on top of jumble sticks. By the barn were chalk hopscotch and flower drawings, one in five colors. Saw Victor and a man wearing a (Shane) Victorino Phillies team shirt.

In the meadow near the Heritage center, a groundhog was feeding upon the grass and plantain shoots with ravenous rapid motions that at first glance seemed amusing – like it was in a race to eat as much as possible before winter hibernation – but then it became necessary to regard it with more seriousness than amusement, because the groundhog, when it moved forward, was unable to traverse a straight line and travel erect for more than two steps without veering right and falling to the right, onto its side. Then it would get up again and try to eat.  The ferocious bent of its activity and its asymmetric running was interesting and made me feel sad. Its left side was stiff and unyielding, without suppleness. Is this evidence of rabies or a type of palsy, like Bell’s palsy? Could it have eaten herbicide that has affected its brain?  Valiant ground hog, released from the natural hide of health and normalcy, is destined to die.

After my walk I stopped at the World’s Cleanest Gr$ocery store, where the flowers bade me to make a circle around them until I was able to rub and sniff the fresh potted basil and see my beloved, clean shaven, making circles around the bakery goods with his yard-long dry mop.

Someone at the park had written Help Me in green on the black top and a small branch with many leaves obscured the “l” out of it.


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