From the AnthologyReflections of the Land
I never thought I’d see this here!
gasps the medical student
as a four-point buck taps up the sidewalk
then springs into the lush greenery
and fruiting cultivars in a yard down the street.
From Brooklyn, New York, or so
her sweatshirt says, she stands still and stares,
a blue plastic bag of groceries in each hand.
Likewise, I’ve always found the personal lives
of the intellects who migrate here
to tackle disease and dysfunction
almost impossible to imagine.
Dark curls still wet and shampoo-perfumed,
she turns to us for an explanation.
We tell her that even in Ohio
deer seldom use the sidewalk.
Reports of a fox in the neighborhood
surface on social media.
Oh, lucky them, I think, to see a fox
that shy fire and full-body smile.
Next Door users, however, are not charmed.
“Call the animal warden,” they shrill.
“I’m afraid to let my cat out.”
And even, “We have small children!”
The frenzy dies down, and one morning
very early, I wander to the front window
and there is the fox, nosing around the hydrangea.
He trots a few steps away, unafraid and in no hurry.
He stops and looks back at me
not brother, not friend, but not foe, either.
Grazing peacefully on pine cones
a groundhog works his way up the driveway,
legs folded under his plump body like landing gear.
He lifts his head, and his profile is winsome
whiskers and quivering snout
both rodent-like and rabbit-y.
After what happened with the fox
I act quickly. Take a picture, and post it
on Next Door, with the caption:
“Groundhog on Grandview. Perfectly harmless.”
A native of New Jersey, Meredith Holmes has lived for many years in Cleveland Heights. In 2005 she was chosen to be that city's first poet laureate. Pond Road Press has published two collections of her poems: Shubad’s Crown and Familiar at First, Then Strange. Her poems have been published in several literary journals and anthologies, including Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems for Bad Times and Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice. Meredith is a freelance writer, covering technology and women in science, engineering, and politics.