A Suddenness of Squirrel

I am not sure where my mind
had gone to hide, or whether it was
chiselling away at some large grey
stone of metaphor somewhere
in the sub-consciousness, unapparent to me,
images or sounds bursting like fireworks,
but whatever may have been happening
to me on an intellectual or even aesthetic level
was abruptly obliterated, the sculpture image
toppled and zapped into the void,
the precise same moment the red squirrel
shouted loudly at me from its spruce limb
just above my head as I passed
directly beneath it on the trail.

I lurched sideways, alarmed
by the unexpected stridence of its sudden
CHIR-R-R-R-R-R, which struck a note
of fright, near panic, somewhere deep inside me¸
as if I had been walking through the desert
and had been stopped short
by the chill maraca of a rattlesnake.
I was not ready for it.

But why should this tiny, harmless creature
have triggered in me, rational animal,
such instant fright and the flight reflex?
I am staying at Emma Lake, for godsake.
I know I share this space with squirrels –
and I am more than happy to do so.
Is it because we want nature on our terms
and not on its own? Rational man that I am,
I can now laugh at my ignorance
and my unseemly fear, shrug it off
as an aberration, though I know
it’s nothing of the kind.
Wild is still part of wilderness.

~ Glen Sorestad

Glen Sorestad is a nationally recognized poet who has published twenty books of poetry. His work has been recognized in Europe and the United States where throughout the years he has been invited to universities and writing festivals to present it. His work with the Saskatchewan Writers Guild earned him the Guild’s Founders’ Award in 1990. In subsequent years he was recognized by the Writers Union of Canada and in 1998 the League of Canadian Poets honoured him with Life Member status. In 2000 he was appointed the first Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan, a post that he served until 2004, and in 2010 he was appointed to the Order of Canada.

Read more poems by Glen Sorestad here

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