Movement outside my window caught my eye.
It wasn’t the usual swaying of the branches
But something bigger, bulkier, more deliberate
Than the whims of the wind on the still-bare tree.
It’s April and from my vantage point, I don’t even see
Buds, although they might be there, hidden by
The grey shadows of the day.
A raccoon, an unruly, scruffy teenager,
Takes tentative steps down the branch.
He seemed unsure as the branch
Bobs under his weight. Considering he’s
Only half the size of what he will become,
I wonder if that branch, upon which I’ve seen
Him ascend but never descend, many times,
Will hold his bulk. But now, his scraggly body
Moves with one step forward, two steps back,
As if security comes from the farther reaches
Of the branch, not towards the heavy trunk
He’s trying to reach. I stay still, observing his
Progress, wondering if he’ll turn back.
After many attempts, as if something invisible from behind,
Pushes him forward down to the trunk, after which
I can no longer witness his actions.
I think that’s the last I’ll see of him today,
But within a few minutes, I see him climbing up and down
Other branches, one thicker, one thinner, and now I realize
He is doing what all teenagers do, testing the limits of
His abilities and his environment, tentative
Then suddenly bold, without a clue or a care
Of the outcome other than to know
Where he can go next. That is freedom.