This poem was published in the Winter/Spring 2013 issue of Pegasus, the poetry journal of the Kentucky State Poetry Society
The squirrels had a nest up in the big maple
in his neighbor’s back yard.
Since he was retired now,
he had plenty of time to watch them.
Climbing down the trunk,
defying gravity with their claws firmly
planted in the bark, tails twitching,
they danced along the power line.
His neighbor’s wife would leave peanuts on the deck,
the shells of which would inevitably be found
on his side of the fence.
Nothing but bushy-tailed rodents,
he complained to his daughter when
she stopped by one Sunday for coffee.
Oh, Dad, she said, but they are so cute.
So he kept to himself the rush of joy
he had felt the day before
when a red-tailed hawk,
desperate after another fruitless flight over
fields still full of corn and soybeans,
swept in and picked the fattest squirrel
right off the porch.
A muted squeal, then silence,
broken only by the sound
of the dropped nut bouncing off the deck.