MODERATION

                                        We are taught to be
                                        moderate. To live intelligently.

                                                  – Jack Gilbert (“The Danger of Wisdom”)

From the shaded corner of my eye, I watch
the old cows follow my hands, measure pauses
between steps, hang back from the gate

trying to decide. They have learned
the smell of urgency I deny—camouflage
with monotone interposed by gentle coos

and ever-so-small handfuls of fresh alfalfa
left like breadcrumbs. They forsake great space,
fall in line, cross the threshold to be confined

as I walk among them, yet they have not lost
their fear and passion I can ignite
into wild-eyed stampede if I have lied,

if I let doubt or anxiety escape my mind.
Moderation: sage advice for slow progress
that without passion becomes meaningless.

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