I discard an old cantaloupe,
fruit flies still hovering over it,
when I notice color & movement
out by the fence.
Unmistakable. A fox, its russet
coat highlighted in morning sun
as it pumps away at the kill,
a squirrel. It gnaws
at the head, perhaps the brains
tasty as a rabbit’s, to an owl.
For an hour it eats, maneuvers it,
even sits at times
at the propped-up meal,
top half-gone. I tap
on the window, it looks at me,
then returns to feed,
its backside an arch
like the bend of a bittersweet branch.
It finally stops, goes back
to leftover pieces, licks
its face with its black front paws,
then picks up the remains
& disappears. I go out,
spook cedar waxwings
at the birdbath as I lift off
the slab of ice. Nothing remains
by the fence—no bone, tuft of fur,
only matted-down myrtle
& a few old oak leaves, tawny
in sunlight. I console myself that
the squirrel had its time in my yard.
A fruit fly lives only a day.
About the author:
Wanda S. Praisner, a recipient of fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Dodge Foundation, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and VCCA, has won he Egan Award, Princemere Prize, Kudzu Award, First Prize in Poetry at the College of NJ Writers’ Conference, and the 2017 New Jersey Poets Prize. She was a featured reader at the Governor’s Conference on the Arts, as well as the Dodge Poetry Festival. She’s appeared in Atlanta Review, Lullwater Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. Her latest books are Natirar (Kelsay Books, 2017) and To Illuminate the Way (Kelsay Books, 2018). She’s a resident poet for the state.