What does it mean
To be a human being?
At the end of the day it means
You’ll gladly remove your shoes
And scamper in the grass, just moist and cool
And tickling at your feet.

It means at any time of day
You’ll offer your pinkie to a baby,
And smile so broad
When the child grabs ahold,
Refusing to let go.

It means you’ll laugh at the sight of fireflies in the night,
And at the call of ravens in the day.
It means you’ll shout EWWW
At the certain-sure smell of skunk
Or the feel of slime that follows slug.

It means you’ll plunk your finger
Against the watermelon, trying to judge it ripe,
And rap your knuckles against your noggin,
Trying to get things right.

It means you grieve,
Sometimes as much for the suffering of a stranger
As for your own.

It means you’ll be frustrated at the weeds in your garden
And the pile of dirty laundry on the couch-
And angry over insult-
And furious over an insult to your child.

It means you will sit down and sit still
For a story told well,
Hanging on every word,
Becoming part and parcel to its plot.

It means you remember
Where you were when you heard the news
Or who you were with the first time you heard that song
Or what you were doing
When the world changed about.

It means you will take a song
Or a line from a movie-
And steal them, because they ring like a bell
In the tower that is your heart-
And you will make them your very own-
And dance to them through life.
If I had a hammer,
Carpe Diem,

It means you will fall in love-
With rhubarb pie
Or ice cold Lutheran beverage
Or a lass with pigtails
Or the place that you call home-
Or all of the above.
It means you will love them
And hope for their redemption
And labor to make it so-
And when their song is sung,
It means you will lift your voice,
Raspy and gruff
Or tiny and shrill-
It means WE will lift them all together
And sing out loud without the slightest qualm
Because we
Are human beings.

George R. Pasley
August 11, 2014
Ketchikan Alaska

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