A new family moved in down the street

one of their children, a boy of about six,
was alone, pushing his scooter
up the road toward my house as I arrived
home from work

when I stepped from my car, he asked,
Do you have any kids?
I thought for a moment, and told him
yes, but they are grown and have gone
their own way

Okay, he said, turned his scooter, 
and glided down the street, alone

He will never know how, with that single question,
he made me reconsider my entire life,
which flashed before my eyes,
hitting me like a gut punch

I thought of how it might have been,
had I had more children—
perhaps a little boy or girl, around his age—
about how they may have had a scooter, too,
and also needed a friend to play with in the warmth of
early summer

I thought of how pleasant it would have been
to hear their childsong and laughter
through the open window as I washed
the dishes

of how they may have gone to school together,
and become best friends, then
high school sweethearts, then,
in time, married–
creating a line between them that
stretched from their childhoods to
the very end and to the possibility
of children of their own, playing
together on this street or that

how strange life is–
how few the opportunities taken,
how plentiful the opportunities lost

my heart broke in that moment
for the little boy
who was just looking for
someone—anyone–to join him for play,
someone willing to risk a skinned elbow
for the simple joy of racing
down the road, scooters
side by side

my heart broke for me, too,
because, while I understood
we can’t take every choice—
there is no time to open every door—
still, in my heart there was room
for so much more