Down in the airshaft/basement
where I go every morning for my bicycle
I see there's a flood on the floor
from a storm the night before
and I am reminded of the fields flooding
outside my childhood home in winter
and the water freezing
and an ice lake forming beside the creek
that we could skate on like Hans Brinker
when the canals freeze in Holland,
a place where I had never been.
But this puddle is a nuisance;
I can't step around it or over it
without getting my shoes wet,
and when I rearrange the bags of garbage
I don't find a dry path.
I just find more filthy water
under more garbage. I put on my gloves
as if for protection and lift my bike
and step as carefully as I can
as I carry it up the stairs.
A bird shoots from under the stairs
as I'm stepping down into the airshaft.
It's a city bird, a pigeon,
but the rush of its wings, its fear,
brings back memories of hunting
for birds in brush, in pine trees,
finger on the trigger guard, listening,
watching, for a sign of avian life,
just like the blast from under the stairs,
a warning, perhaps, to stay away from a nest,
as I'm walking down, expecting no sound
except the hum of air conditioners.
I want to make healthy choices.
That's my plan for living today.
I can't really plan beyond today.
I can't plan that far ahead.
I don't have that much foresight
or control over my behavior.
I might do something unhealthy
tomorrow, but not today.
Today, I will choose to do
what I think is healthy.
I'm talking mind as well as body.
Actually, I'm talking more mind than body.
I was never a great caretaker of my body.
I fed it whatever it wanted.
I pushed it when it was tired,
but I didn't push it to a better condition.
The mind is something I can work on,
as well as the soul, whatever that is,
and the spirit, if there is such a thing.
I can try to tone my mind,
give it some healthy things to think about,
things like flowers and trees,
hills and grass, sunshine, water,
stars at night, that kind of thing,
at least figuratively, because such things
are not part of my normal reality.