Friday, July 17, 2009

Road Kill

I cry for the dead squirrel

Who looks like he has fallen from the sky

Face down in the road.

Is he the one who ate acorns

watching me as I drank my coffee?

Now two days dead

No longer so much squirrel

As a smear on the asphalt,

I see him turn inside out

from those who feast on flesh

each taking his own turn –

flies, beetles, birds.

Car tires flatten what little remains

and by this evening I can barely

tell the squirrel from stains.

I feel guilty, I want

to bury him, save him

From the indignity of cars.

His limp body in my shoe box.

A grave in the garden bed near

the cats’ graves. But I don’t.

Instead I gingerly step over him,

around him. Park the van

a few feet farther up the block.

Afraid of what my husband will say,

what the neighbors will think

of my attachment

to a city rodent, a common pest,

I ignore my son’s young voice

who once insisted we bury every dead bird,

every squirrel, with love and ritual

because we are guardians of all we see.

I side-step that responsibility.

Instead I commemorate this moment.

The grave I should have dug,

The life I could not save.

The grey squirrel, soon forgotten,

already replaced, who I wish

I could ask to forgive me.

November 2008

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life with Crows

It was a cold February day

when the war of words began.

War of words?

Boxing with ghosts actually.

Looking back, we realized

all the crows were gone.

We had never noticed.

So many things we never noticed –

all the shadows in the room,

Phantoms, influence peddlers,

spreaders of misconception,

missed perceptions.

Upon reflection, we realize

We had never noticed.

The crows were gone,

migrated to a sacred tree

carried across the divide

by a microscopic virus with

an exotic name – West Nile.

No Cleopatra here

Black-winged corpses strewn in yards.

When we noticed, it was too late.

It was too late for all

The war had already begun.

Life as we knew it was shattered.

Words exploded around us.

Phantom remnants of logic

taunted us until we were heaving.

Sharp accusations stabbed our vitals.

Like crows, they tried to cast us out.

Push us to the periphery.

Epithets of ugliness attached themselves

with hook├Ęd claws.

Somehow, we limped through battle.

Bloodied, bruised, our spirits not yet broken

we made our way home.

We hoped no one would notice.

On a sunny day in April

years after the war began,

We stood sorting through the rubble

and noticed

the crows had returned home (to us).

Susan Scheid (May 2008)