WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT I

 

All the trees kept their own council without any wind to speak of,
until one lone limber pine began gesticulating wildly, as if it 
suffered from its own inner cyclone. 
                                                           It was like a lunatic in the
courtroom of other trees.
                                         We forgot about the sunset and the dark
coming on across the plain. 
                                                 Then the reason appeared: a mother
antelope had twin newborns backed into the tree and fended off a 
pair of coyotes who darted in and feinted out, knowing she
couldn’t defend them both. 
                                             The girl I was with shrieked, “Do
something!”
                 I thought of the rifle back at the house. 
                                                                   I thought of a 
litter of coyote whelps in a den somewhere nearby. 
                                                                  I thought of the 
three hundred yard sprint to the tree. 
                                                            The mother antelope would
be first to bolt, and those coyotes would have the aplomb to make
off with both twins.
                           I said no. 
                                                  The antelope struck out with her
forelegs, she butted the coyotes back, until one of them got the
chance they had orchestrated and caught a twin and trotted off,
dangling it by the nape as gently as if it were her own.
 

 

 

 

 

 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT II

 

 
I woke from a bird hitting the window, almost, I thought, hard
enough to break it. 
                          The sun rose knowingly.
                                                                          I slid the sash up and
stuck my head out like someone in an Italian movie. 
                                                                                     A flicker lay
on its back—stunned—but it was blinking steady as a railroad
crossing.
               Was there misery to put out?
                                                  Would it come to its 
“senses”?
                 I thought where were you when bark beetles killed half
my trees?
                 Then I remembered, sleepily, reading that flickers mostly
eat ants.
               I went back to sleep for half an hour, and dreamt, as I
often do, of horses. 
                                 When next I looked, the bird still lay still, still
blinking.
                Maybe, I thought, it can’t roll over. 
                                                                          So I went down and
rolled it over.
                       Terrified by my touch, it came to life and flop- 
hopped down the hill into some sagebrush. 
                                                                       It didn’t fly, but it
didn’t seem broken, either. 
                                    I tried to find it later.
                                                                                No luck.
                                                                                               Whether
it lived and flew off, or died thrust into a bush, was, apparently, 

none of my business.
                                    If it were thrust into a bush, I knew the ants
wouldn’t wait for the guest of honor to start dinner.
                                                                                   Not my
business either.

                                                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT III

 

 

Without the manifest necessity of a paint-laden brush, the motion
traced by the painter’s hand would mimic that moth’s fragile
desperation against the glass as it seeks escape into the already
painted sunset. 
                          It drops to the sill periodically the way the painter’s
hand would drop to the palette. 
                                                   Then it sputters back up erratically
and zigzags to indicate the horizontal nature of sunsets. 
                                                                                          On the
other side of the glass, free to the air, a nighthawk enacts the same
erratic striving, up and up and down and sideways then up again
and falteringly up until it drops, wings folded, suicidally
earthward. 
                   It spreads its wings just above the ground for the lifesaving
aerialist’s breathtaking swoop. 
                                                   Air through feathers (they
call it drumming) hums like a wind harp or tissue paper on a comb. 
 
The nighthawk flies like that, erratic as a bat, because that’s how
moths fly, and that’s what nighthawks eat and what they feed their
fledglings. 
                  Nighthawks build no nests but lay their eggs on bare
ground. 
              Their camouflage is so perfect you can only find them by
accident. 
                 If you are out walking and the mother flies up, pulling
that cliché broken wing trick, and you mark the spot she rose from,
you can find the eggs. 
                                     If you go back after they hatch, you can look
right at them and think they aren’t there—just some small chunks
of wood.
                 So I’m watching this nighthawk and the moth on the
glass in their painterly struggles that mirror each other as the
sunset reclines, aloof. 
                                     This is the only moth I’ve seen this rainless  
summer.
                The only nighthawk too.
                                              So I open the window and give 
them both what they want. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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