Walking down the pigeon covered streets of a forgotten brownstone
neighborhood I hear children screaming, gleefully. Like a swarm of
bees they weave in and out of their circles of friends, sometimes a
pair, sometimes eight or ten, pollinating each other with smiles. They
are swirling vortexes of little people bundled up in puffy jackets.
Chasing balls that don't bounce
in straight lines, holding hands and interlocking arms as they add to
their herd, some simply hold on to the arm of a friend and just sit
and watch carefully. Reminds me of my own thoughts dancing around.

And in this chaos I can't help remember the order that falls out of it
all. Friendships made and broken, pecking orders defined, first loves.

I stare through the bars keeping them in and can't help but recognize
how much they look like prisoners. As I look over and nod towards a
toothless old man. My smile confirms the mutual amazement we shared
towards this spectacle of unrestrained life. He tells me "they are
fightin' for dey freedom." Yes they are, yes they are.

Then I notice myself, sitting patiently, holding a book, studying,
drinking warm coffee - quiet, calm - wondering how much my own spirit
has been broken into reserved submission over the years.

A few minutes later, I hear whistle blow, they grow quiet, and one
after the other, they all fall into line to return to the classroom.

A few hours later, I find myself in Manhattan. Thousands upon
thousands shuffle down gum covered sidewalks. Little lines of ants,
all dressed in black. They looked like they haven't played in years.

In a few hours, some of them will seek out the lost art of childhood.
Like tranquilized animals they will waddle around dark boxes with loud
noises, but there will be no gleeful screaming. Just the low rhythmic
cadence of recorded sounds. Poor vestiges of what once was.

What happened to recess?