You were all about on the bare ground
parsing litter from a naked, spidery tupelo
in the last cold light of day in the backyard.
I’d forgotten or was too lazy that morning
to spread any seed, so maybe you came back
after a long day’s searching to make one last go of it.
I don’t know how the neighborhood cat knew this,
but there he was, brutally clever in his stillness,
getting the drop on you, laying himself out
and snaking back under the fence
with the same sort of fear he’d put in all of you.
I think he also wanted to get away as fast as he could
from what had happened. Since then
I’ve been thinking of a name for that song
flanging and dire you orchestrated
in memoriam from the tupelo.
I’d never heard it before, but I knew I wanted
birdsong in the backyard while I was writing,
and if I’d paid attention only half the time,
would I not also be like the cat, unwilling
to reckon with either of our natures?
Artwork: Emperor Huizong – Finches and Bamboo