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How to Keep Things Alive photo

Golden Shovel with line from The Gun Song by the Lumineers

The wrens first built & second abandoned their petal-lined nest: wilted orange flower & things

like salamanders & wasps penetrated the thicket of birth. An empty structure still stands & I

am not awakened at 4 am by their riotous song. Listen: I am an accessory to murder. I knew

not to tell anyone: not to shine a flashlight into their home: not a hypothetical scenario when

the outcome is as final as flame. I planted peppermint plants to keep the squirrels away: I

fenced the dahlias with lavender & sage so the rabbits stayed in their patch of clover. I was

planning this violence all winter so everything would open at the same time. Tiger lilies: the young

sparrows rising from their shells. The daisies never stay in chains: they are almost dead. Some

xenias will last all summer if I can keep the slugs away. I’m learning backyard bird songs: were

you to arrive today I could explain the chorus: blue jay/ raven / a bright cardinal so true

to his art that his babies will surely be discovered. one by one. Dog-walking neighbors &

rabbit-eating dogs: I know this is the circle/I know hunger is a flooded nest/I know. Some

keep their distance: some look into my window to see what I’m singing: I wish they were

listening without weapons in hand: without teeth or wings: our choices necessary & wrong.