This poem addresses something that I think about a great deal which is simply that we are another kind of animal and that we're blessed with a superior intelligence but can't divorce ourselves from all the other creatures.

Walking on Tiptoe


Long ago we quit lifting our heels
like the others – horse, dog, and tiger –
though we thrill to their speed
as they flee. Even the mouse
bearing the great weight of a nugget
of dog food is enviably graceful.
There is little spring to our walk,
we are so burdened with responsibility,
all of the disciplinary actions
that have fallen to us, the punishments,
the killings, and all with our feet
bound stiff in the skins of the conquered.
But sometimes, in the early hours,
we can feel what it must have been like
to be one of them, up on our toes,
stealing past doors where others are sleeping,
and suddenly able to see in the dark.

from Delights and Shadows: Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2004), © Ted Kooser 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher, Copper Canyon Press, P O Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271. Poetry Foundation recording made on 10 July 2007, Lincoln, Nebraska.

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