by Laura Parker Roerden
When life crowds you with the call of too many mean words,
words that line the very highway you are walking,
words that tumble along ghost town prairies as dangerous tumbleweeds gathering seeds, spreading like wildfire
and threatening to crowd out truth,
try to find the center of the pendulum,
though it swings out of control,
though it threatens to rip apart the fulcrum with every swing.
The center is not a place or ideology,
but the essence of the very moment
you are in, even as it weeps with the
soft acknowledgement of wounds.
This morning, I turned on the spigot
of clean, cold water in the barn
to fill an empty bucket.
The sound of purity spilled unbridled,
while I gave hay to the sheep first, then llamas, then goats. Navigating the barn, the sound sparkled like glass marbles,
a ladder of notes,
still while the bucket filled. I stayed tethered
to the sound as if navigating a canyon,
or the head of a river, or womb.
I knew the pail was full when the sound
slightly muffled, so I dropped the hay
and ran to the valve, turning it
deftly and decidedly to off. And then I saw it:
a tiny field mouse,
floating dead on the surface.
It had been trapped in the empty bucket.
My carelessness had left it gasping
while I hummed to the music; the water
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Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd. and is a member of the Pleiades Network of Women.