Instinct (from Brainstorms & Artwise Poetry Roulette Cards)
She stopped, crouched low, and fixed her gaze.
Slowly she began to move with singular intention, slinking forward with the stealth of a fox, or that of a child who has crept out of her room for a midnight treat.
He seemed to sense her, though he kept nibbling on his lunch, perhaps secretly taunting her to come closer, waiting until just the last minute to fly up into the tree.
Still, she darted after him, only to be halted by an annoying tug at her chest. The leash had run out of slack. The leash always runs out of slack and yet, she always goes after the squirrel.
She just can’t help herself.
I had a different poem in mind to share this week until I learned that January 21st was National Squirrel Appreciation Day. If you look for this poem in Brainstorms, you'll find it under the title, "Prey." It wasn't until after I saw it in print that I realized that the original title didn't quite fit the story!
A few years after I wrote the poem, I noticed that a rock squirrel was spending a lot of time hanging around on our back deck. Most of the time, the squirrel ran off at the sight of my dog, Snowball. I was tickled to walk into the living room one day and see the squirrel and Snowball checking each other out through the safety of the sliding glass door.
Over time, I have continued to find new layers of meaning and resonance as I come back to the poem. And it always reminds me to appreciate my other-than-human friends and neighbors and everything I get to learn from them.