The Grid Less Naught
Red squirrel came running down the tree.
It did not look at Chris or me.
Its coat glowed where it met the air,
And on it ran to business fare,
Under the car too fast for squirrels
And shot out yonder fine, I thought,
To hug the dirt to bury fuel,
Hugging the mound, hunching low,
Its somber eyes half-shut,
The windows on that world half-shut.
It didn’t move when I approached,
It didn’t flinch when, Mr. Squirrel, I said,
Are you all right? I squatted soft to proof those eyes
If flickering, then agony. I could not tell.
Motionless it remained, a mystery. Dead? Alive?
To have to walk away from that,
Not fiddle to revive or snuff
What slipped in seconds from the grid to drop humped
On that mound as if to ride to kingdom come.
The wheel had crushed its bones, I now did see,
A body threshed spun out from under rubber slung
As unimpeded on its way to business rich,
That mound, that dirt, to bury fuel.
To have to walk away from that, the pain, whatever pain,
The anguish, whatever anguish, squirrels might feel.
Or it was dead. To walk away not knowing down that grid,
Chorus swelling all down the lane, eulogizing nothing –
So lately of the grid – untended on that mound at the end
Of something big, because if not dead, it did not move.
And of the garish chirps from river reeds, what said they not said yesterday?
Good Friday passes some way, some how, raw as ever years before.