Animals Above Me

Deborah Keenan

My neighbor cradles a coyote at the top of the hill behind my house.
She is screaming at me to stop being so afraid.
Then the keening yet ecstatic cry of our neighborhood hawk, and then
The plunge, the lift, the rabbit, crying.
Worst, the nightly dreams of the snake, huge, yellow and green,
On the high shelving in my old house, sometimes the bedroom,
Sometimes the dining room. The dream makes me sick
And I wake from it every night between 3:30 and 4:00. Comforting
Books do not comfort, so I get up exhausted and start the day.
Other neighbors keep telling me: as long as you see it, you don’t need
To be afraid. Then in the next dream, I cannot see it.
I am sick and afraid. I wake up again.
The bear straddling my maple tree, about twenty feet up.
Is he scared?
I am so sick of thinking about how safe I am, so sick of making
Animals carry all my fear. The human beings in our country,
Half, at least, live in terror. In our world, half, at least,
Terrified, desperate, sick with fear. I see it. I cannot see it.
I see it.

More by Deborah Keenan

Maybe He's Grateful but Get Out of His Way

The Siberian tiger leaps from the back of the truck:
He’d been caught in a snare, rescued by Russian students
Deep in the forest, tranquilized, observed, fitted with a radio
Collar, woken up as if from a human dream for tigers,
Driven back to the forest, the cage opened, the leap,
And gone.

Four hundred left. Poachers demented with greed
Want every part of the Siberian tiger but never
The whole tiger.