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Down a Quiet Street

quiet street

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The leaves scamper down the otherwise quiet street--

like the scurrying of tiny mouse feet;

the deciduous crisp luxuriance crunches, like cereal,

beneath the hard-soiled, perilously shabby shoes

of the top-coated, bespectacled old patrician;

black hat drawn firmly about his ears,

the avuncular gentleman,

each day like clockwork,

trudges along the echoing cobblestoned paseo--

slowly, steadily, determinedly, joyfully

walking his little four-footed companion

on their way to or from somewhere.

Breezes blow autumn leaves from overhead branches,

each leaf a different color of fall--

hot-red, raging-orange, sun-drenched yellow, earthen-brown--

each fallen leaf a forecast of the bracing winter to come;

it is a season of fireplaces and chimney stacks,

of coats held tightly against the body,

of umbrellas defending against the onslaught of raindrops--

one after the other, smaller and bigger,

lightning and thunder,

swelling and shrinking,

expanding and contracting,

strengthening and weakening,

growing closer together

and farther apart--

lighting up a day-glow sky

or crashing against the rock-silent darkness

of a starless midnight firmament.

Two diminutive children, a bit too tattered,

tremulous and trembling,

run hand-in-hand

--hardly old enough to be on their own,

instantly reminding one of the little matchseller

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hidden deeply in the corner

between two cold, indifferent, walled-out dwellings;

but these tease and are filled

with irrepressible joy.

Meanwhile. . . a flock of birds in south-bound flight,

not in formation but meandering across

an inviting but cluttered sky

--billowing clouds promising brisk days

--an almost imperceptible dot of water on a windowpane

as a random man and wife

look wistfully at those white puffs,

seeing not the cotton tufts

but the pictures of "future past."

Then with eager, unquestioning anticipation,

with utter confidence and faith,

the children dash with outstretched arms

as they spy their lordly gentleman;

they screech with pleasure--

smiles drawn broadly, eyes sparkling--

running wildly, jubilantly into the waiting, enveloping arms

of the gentle yet robust, wizened sage, while

grabbing simultaneously at his adoring side-kick.

They talk rapidly and play without restraint;

they laugh with abandon for a while

and share closely held secrets

during hopeful, freely taken, stolen moments.

And then, with that certain inevitability,

like the beat of a clock showing the passing of time,

they part and retreat along their separate paths

--to and from mysterious places,

treading on dry leaves,

hearing them echo.

And then, and then,

rosemary jenkins

the four retrace their journeys

into the forbidden, welcoming night.

Rosemary Jenkins