Small stone, Vol. 2, #5

Watching the street cleaner scoop up paper cups and faded wrappers, one smooth sweep of his long-handled dust pan, I remember when I cleaned houses and gas stations and grocery stores for a living. And I realize I can no longer do those things. I have lost the skills. I have developed new skills to replace them: teaching, wordsmithing, critical reading, scholarly insight. But the zen of the mop bucket, the dance of broom over dust and tile, the gymnastics of heaving trash into Dumpsters — these skills are mine no more. How I admire the man out there in my street who so blithely swings the dust pan like a clock pendulum, the gentle lift of the refuse into the rolling bin, the arc of his arm and the poetry of his stride.

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