THESE WILD TURKEYS
For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen
the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral
Character. He does not get his Living honestly… For the Truth
the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird,
and withal a true original Native of America… His is besides,
though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not
hesitate to attack…
—Benjamin Franklin, 1784
we’ve taken to feeding these wild turkeys
and they hate us for it, hold us in contempt,
lured from the burden of forage,
baited into ease and dependence,
it’s our fault and they know it, so they
turn on us, demand we continue what we’ve
started now that the damage is done, their
wildness revised to fistfuls of grain on the ground
a hen wanders in from another flock
on the far side of the ridge, saunters in
from the wild to peck the easy corn
with her angry and sated cousins,
the ancient grain a new delight to her,
until a delegation of other hens arrives from
over the ridge, cuts her from this indolent flock,
and nudges her back to the wild fold
see the tom by the fallen poplar, wing feathers
chestnut and buff, eyes like polished pebbles,
he does not condescend to display for us,
we do not merit his vanity,
no threat to him, we are pathetic and
worthy of no more than his disdain,
servants to be pecked and prodded if
we are too slow to deliver up the corn
—from Rattle #27, Summer 2007
SEVEN SIMPLE EXERCISES TO PREPARE
FOR THE INEVITABLE ARRIVAL OF GRIEF
Walk out of the supermarket and pretend your car has been stolen. Walk home laden with plastic bags full of groceries. Whistle something in ¾ time when the thin plastic handles begin to cut into your fingers.
Dig a hole in your yard—a deep one. Plant something inorganic, such as a hat or a lug wrench, in the hole and cover it with dirt. Water it dutifully all summer long.
Plan to take the dog for a walk. Take the leash with you and a bag for the poop, but leave the dog behind. Walk at your usual pace. Follow your regular route. Trail the leash aimlessly behind you. Pick up the poop left by someone else’s dog.
Collect all the spoons in the house and throw them out. All of them—even the demitasse spoons and that old, bent serving spoon you use in the garden sometimes. Prepare a bowl of hot soup. Eat it with a fork, and keep eating until you’ve finished every last bit of it.
Forget where you live. Go home to someone else’s house. Drop your coat over the back of a chair, sit at the kitchen table, and appear shocked that the people there are shouting at you, claiming they don’t know you, pleading with you to leave. Remain seated at the table until right before the police arrive.
Knock on the front door of your own house and demand to speak to yourself. When no one answers, knock harder, shout that you know you’re in there, and that you’re going to keep knocking and shouting and creating a scene until you finally answer the door.
Hide all day in the crawlspace under the house, but leave a tape recorder running upstairs so that later you can study the sounds the house makes without you in it.
—from Rattle #28, Winter 2007