…some spring tea…


Virgola (Comma)

She knows I will wait for her –

(I can’t be sure, she?, he?, but

So she seems to me – )

‘Virgola’, Comma,

Always the last to arrive

At morning tea.

I leave my brew resting on

The white table and move to terrace:

They all know, fluffy and brown-gray,

The family of squirrels living in the trees

And green below, play and play and

Feign and feign and rustle

In the rustling bushes, thick and cool, and

Pines and oaks, twirling

Up opposite trunks, speaking across to themselves

In the way only squirrels do, litigious,

‘You’, ‘you.’

Beneath, solid and sure,

The General dominates the best seat:

Others whittle and wind only on the fringe of

That space he requires, unstirred.

He stands firm and looks up as my hand throws the first nuts –

Peanuts, American Jumbo – to

The overgrown lawn. Away he slides in less than haste,

Picks up the dry fruit and wanders easy,

For a squirrel, to his cement slab throne.

Now the way is clear and others squirrel in

Squirrely, the way only squirrels do,

Jittering and jittering and pausing and moving like mammalian

Butterflies on an earthy breeze, light and maniacal,

Strong fingered strong hands grapping and grabbing and

Holding and crunch-crunch, over here,

‘Over here? Well, then I’m going over there,

So there so there – listen to this: crunch-crunch-nibble.’

The trees look on, delighted, lowering

Only when the breeze picks up, like

Uncle Johns and aunt Sheilas smiling

Into a baby carriage, any bark damage forgotten –

At least at morning tea.

Then she comes, plop-plop, pause,

Plip-plip, pause, plop-

Plop, small and smaller than her sisters and brother,

Exuberance in every plip,

In the space between plops, miserable –

By compare – unfluffy tail trying its best to fluff:

It angles, an unsmooth sharpness, the runt

Sign of runt-ness that, plop-

Plop, pause, plip-plip, pause,

At every jump she forms a laughing comma

Which un-runts her – like me,

She sees me above: ‘You,’ ‘Me’ –

We are a team.

I wait for the place the moment her movement, plip,

Plop: away a three – we both know two will be stolen –

But she will find the one, plip, pause, plop-plop,

Then comma her way up the last tree trunk, a buckeye,

Crunch, crunch, nibble, ‘Don’t mind me. I’m

Way over here.’

The breeze clicks to almost a wind,

Trees sway.

Later the scene will change, plip, plop,

Autumn will come –

But not yet, not yet, plop, pause, pause,

Plip: it’s early summer, heat and ease, waiting

For the next nut, the next comma.

I turn inside to stir my tea.

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