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Felicity Yates

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Red Squirrel (Lesvós)


In the house you have rented
the bathroom faces the valley,
you open the window wide
when showering, light
on the hills,
a daily iridescence.

It is good to scan the long
field of figs, the trees warped
with age, the neglect
of a shepherd who grazes
twenty sheep there,
leaves the fruit for doves
and foraging neighbours.

The almond fruits too.
Late summer, you tripped
on them, furred baubles
in hot, dying grass,
tussocky weeds,
thistles gone sour in sunlight.

At the cracked pipe of
the shepherd’s trough
a red squirrel comes to drink,
pausing at the moisture,
his fine neck bending
until seized by a hunting cat
and you cannot save him.

You chase the tom
to the foot of a gnarling tree,
where he is startled enough
to drop his prize, the storybook
squirrel who clings to its bark,
before falling.

The decision is not to bury,
you leave it
at the roots of the fig,
as a whole thing
for the crows,
or the cat,
for the natural order of things.


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