Tag Archives: Survival

residuum

“The Distances They Keep”, Howard Nemerov, the blue swallows, 1967


this is no time
to evict
spiders,
centipedes,
the occasional, lone
boxelder bug,
dozens of out-of-season ladybird beetles
or
the almost-always odorless stinkbugs

from
our houses

to do so now means certain death, outside

there is a field mouse
in the dormant compost bin
depositing black “rice”
in washed egg shells and pomegranate rinds/

a mole engineers deeply excavated burrows around the foundation (much too close),
mound-builds in the prairie, and
constructs a minefield for toes and ankles in the remnant, dumb lawn/

the grey squirrels shelter in the woods across the snow-covered dirt road
the red squirrel in the barn is insulating with stuffing from the patio cushions/

black walnuts, please mast next year
oak sapling, pray, grow faster/

i will plant a meadow exclusively of sunflower come Spring/

black-eyed juncos,
black-capped chickadees,
bluejays,
woodpeckers,
and cardinals,
but especially,
the juncos
have learned to tolerate,
and expect my winter presence among them, per nemerov’s counsel,
i don’t wear feathers in my cap – or coat/

the remaining turkey and deer
still grieving, post-hunting season
are tentative,
but returning;
i set out stone salt licks and millet, reverently, repentantly, respectfully, for them/

i count the crows each morning
but truer, i count on them
their steady, regal presence
their voices call to me for sardines, kibble, peanuts
i oblige and always will

[can] we all [can] live here
alongside
inside
and outside together, as kin

i don’t speak
but i telepath
that,
and
this:

i am the residuum here

a wolf spider and their reflection / every spider should be presumed to be an incarnation of Anansi

With a tail as big as a kite. With a tail as big as a kite.

She strained her eyes
what is that dark lump
in the road
traveling into my throat




Out she went
sighting the black beauty
from fifty paces
nearer, the bright blood
pooling beneath ki’s face

Did he even try to brake
or swerve?
“no”, the tracks and trees say

Maybe the driver didn’t see
the pitch black, moving body
against the snowy white, otherwise red dirt road?

Maybe ki darted out,
in front of the royal blue truck
a truck fit for a rural king
[doubt of the beneficent on Christmas]

machines
everywhere
machines

carssawsgunsplowsshipsplanesmillstractorsthrowersdozerstruckscombines
boatsturbinesrigsdredgerstrainsbargesroadsrailharborspipeshousesbridges
wellshighwayssewersstructuresquarriesreactorspowerlinesstreetslotsculde
sacsfencessatelliteslockscelltowerssignsculvertswallsdockslandfillsdams

she gently pincers the end of ki’s gorgeous black tail
gingerly pulling kin off the road
redundantly committing ki’s spirit
to the universe, aloud
with apologies for humankind, silently

purposefully committing kin’s body
to a safer spot
for mourning
and carrion feast

Ki’s body was unexpectedly heavy
full of walnuts and seeds
fat and strong for a long winter ahead
so alive just minutes ago, I saw out the window

I’m sorry
I’m sorry
for me
for my kind
for our machines
for our structures
for our carelessness
for our selfishness
for all this,
engineered, manufactured, destroyed

the falling snow christens quick

she wanted to go inside
and sob
selfishly,
because the possibility
of an aberrantly painless holyday
ceased with the dead black squirrel

she wanted to go inside
to tell someone
but the only one
was a woman, one profoundly unwise
and living individually in the moment
dis-understanding
in the least way
every single day

she wanted to go inside
and forget
but death was also present there
old, not fresh, also unnatural
the not-a-Grandmother at the stove

the stench of a potful of bones, flesh and fat
boiling on the stove
a pig or two’s rib cage
in her favorite cauldron
the one she’d kept for vegetables only

she stays silent
swallows her heart and disappears

caw, caw,
caw-caw

the crows have shown up
for a still-warm, Christmas Eve dinner

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