Nature

When I think about the sparrow who keeps coming to my window

to have what appears to be a chat with yours truly,

though it’s more likely making a nest in a bush near my balcony and telling its partner

in its own bird way to pay no mind to the big one that can’t fly,

we’re way faster,

I’m reminded of spending quality time with my grandparents,

and how, guardians of the feeder-covered balcony, they’d patrol the feeders

in order to make sure the blue jay and gray squirrel weren’t hogging all the black oil.

Her mode of operation was stealthing up to the slider and slowly opening it,

then throwing a cup of water through the screen,

sending the squirrel into a third-floor sky dive to the ground,

where it would give her a look, before attempting an infiltration along the gutters.

My grandfather’s method was to bottle it in. He’d grind his teeth

watching the blue jays chase off all the other birds from the feeder

until he couldn’t take it anymore,

and then would shoot up like a rocket from his chair,

sometimes following up with a broom in the air.

Funny, I used to think they did that to teach me how to protect myself,

which at 12 I thought was the coolest thing in the world.

But now I think they did it because

they felt they were too old to stop what was happening to me at home,

and discreetly needed to remind themselves they could still come to the rescue,

when even more discreetly, what they really wanted to save was themselves

from the feeling of being helpless to do anything.

As for me, I’ve watched and not intervened

when a cult of blue jays ganged up on a baby one.

I’ve also received squirrel pee on my forehead while sleeping,

when pools of squirrel urine in the attic finally found a way through my ceiling.

So, I admit it, I’m not too fond of them either, the latter event sparking

what would become the assertive squirrel relocation program, which I won’t go into.

I guess what I mean to say is that any one of us can be compassionate to an enemy

after we realize we’re the enemy we really want to change.

It’s why this big bird was able to let the blue jays have their little skull crunching

moment, knowing nature has a way of fixing itself, often through tragedy.

I remember after it was over, I sat up from the grass and got on my bike

and rode home and made some dinner.

Published
Categorized as Poetry Tagged

By Chris Russell

Chris Russell’s poems have appeared in Mouse Tales Press, The Cafe Review, The Poet's Touchstone, Centripetal and Slope Magazine. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where, when not writing, drawing, or playing video games, he follows a calling as a Special Education Paraprofessional.