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Pedestrian Crossing, Charlottesville

Rita Dove

A gaggle of girls giggle over the bricks
leading off Court Square. We brake

dutifully, and wait; but there’s at least
twenty of these knob-kneed creatures,

blond and curly, still at an age that thinks
impudence is cute. Look how they dart

and dither, changing flanks as they lurch
along—golden gobbets of infuriating foolishness

or pure joy, depending on one’s disposition.
At the moment mine’s sour—this is taking

far too long; don’t they have minders?
Just behind my shoulder in the city park

the Southern general still stands, stonewalling us all.
When I was their age I judged Goldilocks

nothing more than a pint-size criminal
who flounced into others’ lives, then

assumed their clemency. Unfair,
I know, my aggression—to lump them

into a gaggle (silly geese!) when all
they’re guilty of is being young. So far.

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