Grant Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Grant Park, Atlanta, Georgia

Welcome to Squirrelland, Hilary,
Where trees are spaced evenly—16 feet apart.
Squirrels spiral up and down their high-ways;
Chipmunks squeak shrill and vanish down invisible holes.
Your forepaws tense on my shoulder,
Eyes and nose strain out the car window
To survey today’s lot.

We park.
You explode out the door
To catch up with your overtaxed senses.
Sending up a spray of pigeons,
You zoom in on one squirrel,
Bee-lining it for tree-safety.
Hil_ClimbScrambling flat out,
You bounce your full length up the tree base,
Eyes following the escape
Where the rest of you can’t.
Instantly you retreat down the tree
To loop widely,
Savoring your fugitive’s latest wanderings.
Magnetized, you embrace his tree again
And, wagging joyously,
Loft a soprano salute up to silent leaves.
Thrilled and undaunted,
Your corbette* from tree to tree,
Ears and tail flying,
Forepaws climbing sunbeams,
To sight your next quarry
In your endless game of tag.

Trees are loaded now
With face-down squirrels,
Tails telegraphing DANGER!
A chipmunk’s stealing bases.
You catch him betwixt…
And between…
An oak…
…and a pine.
Hil_Flying_colorFor long seconds
You both dash as one
In frenzied unison
Before his sharper turn
Centrifuges you apart;
Him to awkward safety up the oak,
You to pant out exhaustion
And ready for Round Three.

*dressage exercise in which the horse leaps on his hind legs from a rearing position, his forelegs never touching the ground.

Atlanta, 1975

Round Three