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John Hildebidle

  

Sciuridae

Both science and art have the habit of waking us
up, turning on the lights, grabbing us by the
collar and saying "Would you please pay attention?"

                                                    — Diane Ackerman

Geometry

The absolute horizontal of leaps
from one tree to the next, or of scampers
along power lines; playing against
the true perpendicular of light-pole climbing.

Stillness

When occasion warrants, like shadows,
only tails twitch, slightly, and eyes.

Litigiousness

Given such small size, in the vicinity
of red tail hawks and innumerable
feral cats, you'd imagine they’d keep their peace.
But no—any smallest berry demands orations.

Color

The grey that gives them their name,
but a black family has grown year by year,
and on one occasion, a true white
walks a fence, Wallenda-like.

Gait

Not running, not trotting—
a scheme of tiny leaps.

Intrepidity

No asphalt, not even four lanes worth,
inhibits their progress. Hearing or spying
a bus bearing down, they freeze
so it can pass safely above them.

Adjustability

Head first, head last, no matter
the angle or altitude, always alert,
their tiny eyes seemingly full of curiosity.
Sometimes robust, sometimes small as bat or vole,
they do what is needed to suit available holes.

  

  

John Hildebidle has recovered from a Ph.D. in English from Harvard by teaching in a public junior high school, Harvard, and now MIT, where he infects proto-terchnologists with a love for literature, especially poetry. He has two grown children, two cats, a mortgage—all the earmarks of a bourgeois life. He has published one collection of stories and four gatherings of verse, the newest (Signs, Translations) available online at salmonpoetry.com. He lives and writes in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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