The Squirrel

by Todd H. C. Fischer

A lone squirrel hops through the snow
ducks underneath, then
breaks the surface like a
dolphin in the surf
Stares for a second
then a flick of the head
shakes snow from fur

More snow falls
a steady descent of white
like Faeries fleeing Heaven
to settle on
bare-limbed trees
rusting barbecue
tables made of concrete and wood
and a strange horn-shaped statue

Students wander down the halls
noses dripping, coughing into mittens and gloves
snorting and sneezing
Shake snow off hats and shoulders like the squirrel
Some eagerly sucking
on hot chocolate
on coffee
Faces red and fingers numb
cold and tired
Waiting to begin

Snow stopped traffic
slowed to a crawl at times
The bus, tires rimmed with snow
turned grey by exhaust,
arrives late
Introduction to Poetry has started without me
I glance at watch and shake congested head
I follow the crowd of
hatted scarfed parkaed mittened mensch
to the cafeteria
order donuts and raspberry ice tea
sit at window and read poems
meant to be studied in class

The squirrel, having found a frozen
cookie buried in the snow,
stands triumphant
a little Long John over buried treasure
looks into my eyes through frosted glass
and scrambles up tree
tiny claws clicking against bark
(a sound I can't hear, static plays on the radio)
It inches out onto a branch,
Nature's tight-rope walker,
and when it runs out of branch it
squats back on haunches, tail springed
and I wonder if it will make it

It does

The smell of toast and sausage, hashbrown
and egg
wafts into nostrils
Wishing I could afford to buy more
than doughnuts, I
turn attention back to poetry:
Tennyson's In Memoriam A.H.H.
Walcott's "The Schooner Flight"
Rich's "Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law"
Wayman's "Long Beach Suite"
But they cannot hold me
my attention wavering
again and again
to the window
as I watch the squirrel forage
for food

Discussions range about me
in a plethora of tongues
(the cafeteria a Mosaic)
as I concentrate
peering at the squirrel
diving through powdered waves
among the small, sparse copse of trees
contained within the courtyard
flanked on all sides by windows
And just as I draw a comparison in
my mind
between the squirrel
(trapped in his courtyard)
and myself
(trapped in a world of time tables,
paper, steel, expectations)
Just as I start to feel sympathy
for the squirrel
It scampers up tree, along branch,
and onto wall-top
It looks down at me and I think,
before it disappears from view,
that it pities me

Todd H. C. Fischer's picture

Todd Fischer has been an artist and a writer his entire life and has had several stories and pictures appear in small press journals world wide. He has also published newsletters and chapbooks under the 'imelod Publications' label during the 90's, as well as for several clubs and organizations. He is one of the founders of 'Stonebunny Press' which publishes a variety of material, and is a freelance artist through his Arm Cross Studios., He has worked as a Production Scheduler in a recording studio (recording books for the blind), as well a variety of odd jobs such as window cleaner, grass cutter in a cemetery and as a face painter., In his free time Todd is a medieval re-enactor and a proud member of the Lions. He is a voracious reader, a cartoonist and sometimes playtests various games (including the RPG ‘Spaceship Zero’ and the Rifts CCG). Map making, book collecting, story writing/telling, Halo and poetry are also activities that Todd enjoys.

Last updated August 10, 2011