Invasive Species

P1080240

Hitching rides on boat hulls,
hidden in packaging,
given as gifts,
brought in for bait.
Revered as exotic beauties –
their value shifting
when they pushed out the natives:
reproducing more quickly,
choking out the habitat,
hogging the food,
depleting the resources.

If the native species
convened a committee,
Which way would they vote?
Who would they eliminate?
The pond dwellers and their algal blooms,
The nest destroyers, the egg leavers,
The tree-chokers, the wetland-fillers?

Or might they say, no,
Most of you can stay.
We will learn to live together,
Or we won’t, no matter.
But on this we can agree:
Someone has to go.
Let’s send back the ones
Who built the boats.

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Cowbird

P1010236 (2)

“Cowbirds,” people scoff.
Parasites. Intruders.
Eggs laid in others’ nests.
Overlarge mouths
Awkward bodies
Crowding out
Bright bluebirds
Sweet singing warblers.

But what
of the cowbird babes,
Born in the wrong nest,
Raised by unfamiliar wings?
When do they know
This is not
Where they belong?

How do they find
Each other?
When do they learn
Their own songs?

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P1080397

 

 

Graduation Day

Sunset Cody

A good dog died today.
There’s a lot to say
About 15 human years of dog life.
About Uncle Cody, and all the ways
He taught lessons to the other dogs
At Uncle School (not an easy school).

Uncle School had lessons in manners
Lessons in personal space
Lessons in respecting your elders.
Uncle School was hard on Uncle, too
When the students got big enough
To realize they maybe didn’t have to
Take his lessons any longer.

Uncle School is only part of the story.
There is also a simple love story:
Once upon a time, there was a girl,
And this girl met a dog, and she loved him.
She did not, in the immortal words of Robin Williams,
Know shit about fuck
Where dogs were concerned.
This dog, he put up with a lot
Of things she did not know.

This girl, she has a lot of flaws.
Here’s the thing about this girl, though:
She really knows how to love.
Here’s the thing about this dog
(Here’s the thing about dogs):
They really know how to feel love.
Even when you screw up
Pretty much all the details.
And they really know
How to love you back.

Today’s lesson at Uncle School
Was about how to love and let go.
It was about trusting yourself.
It was about listening to someone else
When they can’t tell you anything in words.
It was about how some lessons are simple.
It was about how love is the best teacher
Except for a good dog.
Uncle School, over and out.

Out Loud

My mother cleaned the house every Saturday.
She took all the pillows off the sofa
To vacuum it, and piled them on the armchairs
Where I would sit and fish for my stuffed animals
From my pillow island, and when she was done
I would make a fort of the sofa pillows on the clean sofa
And play until I got tired or distracted
And my mother would put everything back where it belonged.
When we had my father’s friends over for dinner,
My mother polished the silver, and the copper casserole,
And she washed every single wine glass and liquor glass
And returned them, sparkling, to their shelves in the dining room.

When my mother cleaned the house every Saturday
I would sometimes hear her yell “Son of a BITCH” when she
Stubbed her toe on the bed while vacuuming
And I often heard her say “Jesus Christ!”
When my father was driving, but beyond that,
I rarely heard her swear.

When my mother turned fifty, she said
She was going to be old, or she was going to be fat
But she was not going to be both. She planned to be
Not the sweet soft grannie who baked cookies
But the mean skinny grannie who whacked the hoods of cars
With her umbrella when they inched too far into the crosswalk.
She stopped cleaning the house every Saturday. She started
Walking, and she lost enough weight to scare my sister.
We started having HER friends over for dinner
And before they came, she did not polish the silver and copper
And she did not wash the wine glasses.

My mother worked at the Smithsonian for over twenty years.
She managed a museum shop, and supplied it with the most
Eclectic book collection ever to grace the shelves of an art gallery.
When they began to push out their older and probably higher paid staff
She retired, and went to volunteer as an invertebrate interpreter
At the zoo, where she explained the exhibits to curious visitors
And sometimes sang The Octopus’s Garden to the octopus,
Even after one of her fellow interpreters informed her that sometimes
The exhibited animals, their visitors, and their singing interpreters
Were live streamed on the internet.

When my mother was clearly dying of cancer
Her neurologist wanted to insert a shunt in her brain
To deliver chemo directly to her brain and spinal column.
I asked my mother what she wanted from treatment,
And she said “Not to be in pain any more.”
So I asked the neurologist what this would do for her
And I relayed the information to my mother:

This will not help with your pain. It will not help you walk.
It will give you, at the most, six more months to live
Pretty much the same life you are living right now.
She looked past me as I sat on the foot of her hospital bed,
Staring at the wall for a minute, before her eyes returned to me
And she said “Fuck it.”

It was the first time I heard her say it
Out loud.

Winterpause

icegrass

Mother Nature and I, we are going through the change.
Where we once had regular cycles,
We now find that anything goes.
To everything there is a season, my ass.

Mid-life can only be known in retrospect.
Maybe it’s 51 years, maybe it’s 4.5 billion,
Or maybe it’s whatever point you say
Fuck it, I don’t care what you are used to.
I don’t care how regular and predictable I have been.
I don’t care how little regard you have for a woman my age.
When I’m hot, I’m hot.
When I’m cold, I’m cold.
When I’m both at once, well,
You can just suck it up and buckle up.

My sunshine is my business, not yours.
So are my ice storms, and what the hell do you know
About what makes a season?
Stop looking at a calendar to try to figure me out.

Find beauty in whatever I have to offer
Or don’t – because I have, and that, it turns out,
Is all that matters.

icefeathers