Monday, September 3, 2018

On the Care and Feeding of Rodents

Athens, Georgia
August 25, 2018

There’s a squirrel on my bird feeder 
scarfing a batch of sunflower seeds 
which I bought for a tufted titmouse 
and a faithful pair of chickadees. 

But hidden on the kitchen deck –
a fully loaded water cannon 
dripping from the business end.
The boy inside me smiles. 

I shoulder the Stream Machine 
Hydrobolic Water Launcher™ 
and take my righteous aim –
justice shall be served wet. 

The thief is hanging upside down, 
hind feet clutching roof-top struts, 
front paws clawing side-wire mesh.
I see she’s a mama, and freeze,

recalling one cold winter evening
in the old Oglethorpe farmhouse 
where my wife caught the kitchen 
mouse in a live trap. It was late, 

so she placed the pest in a Mason jar.
Morning saw the slick rodent nursing 
a litter of newborn pups. The fate 
of generations hung in kindly hands.

Guess who fashioned a luxury nest 
in a snug corner of an unused barn 
stocked with water and nuts. Yes, 
the bond between mamas is strong. 

Love or scruples, I lower the soaker 
and toss a handful of peanuts instead.
Mama scoots down the slippery pole, 
greased last week (to no avail). 

As she scampers away with a roasted prize, 
my inner boy sighs and scans for snakes. 
Two chickadees light on the repurposed feeder.
If ever the peaceable kingdom would come 

it could start in a corner of creation where 
songbirds and squirrels share in the bounty 
next to a kitchen deck. Do you hear the call? 
I’m off to Kroger for peanuts and seeds.