A squirrel nestled in on my lap and tried
to tell me that everything is connected,
but I didn’t believe him.
The sun hid behind the clouds, the birds
chirped out their two cents,
but who cares what birds think? The squirrel told me
to stop using my baby voice to speak
to him, but I gave him a pacifier
and he scurried away, squeaking squirrel again.
Later, a rabbit ran across my path, then he
doubled back for good measure. He considered me
for a moment before turning and running to a man
across the courtyard. The man had a knife. The rabbit’s eyes
gleamed shock then realization, yet he kept running
until the pure fur around his throat became drenched.
For that man, the rabbit slit his own throat. Want to try a taste?
Not particularly, and then the man was gone, but blood
lay splattered across the courtyard running like a river
for my running shoes as if I had been the one to stab
with an invisible dagger whose imprint could never be washed away.
As if I had been the one who killed that which ran
toward me. The sun rained blood for the wind to play with.
What does a squirrel or rabbit know about humans? Nothing
besides the way a car can crunch through bone or a knife can slice
apart soft, wet fur even while someone, somewhere, is cooing
the sound we make to the sweet and innocent, like doves
promising peace and love before watching dispassionately, like hawks.
The birds still sang me their songs while the sky became blue
as a forget-me-not, clear of any clouds. As I left the courtyard,
someone else sat down in my heat on the cement, and the squirrel
reappeared. Perhaps this new person will listen.
Behind me, the birds suddenly stop singing.
by Erica Hampton
About the Author
Erica Hampton graduated with a writing degree from the University of Missouri.