Danse Macabre

By Susan Thomas

Again, the raccoons got it all, the corn,
           frilly and long-limbed, so full of silken
rattle in the sideways-shifting wind. 
           I thought we'd struck a bargain with
the deer, offered them music to soothe
           their frazzled nerves, and epicurean compost,
coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetables,
           perfectly displayed on top of the pile,
unsullied by weeds and manure, tempting
           them to stand guard over the fenced-in corn,
scare smaller beasts away. But no, they crowded
           into their deer yard, dreaming orange rinds
and apples, blueberries still on the bush, varied
           cultivars of expensive tulip bulbs, freshly laid
in the ground for them to excavate at their leisure,
           never thinking of the field and their job as lookouts.

But of course, it's not like we have nothing else
           to eat, what with thousands of string beans born
each day when they should have died long ago,
           and artichokes that over-wintered when I forgot
to pull them up last fall, and squash, still pushing
           their way past appointed boundaries, swelling,
coloring, growing so big I can't even lift them
           to harvest, thanks to global warming. And
the corn. Each gap was perfectly filled with seed
           that slid from tassel to silk to cob and grew to
shining fullness, swollen in its husk and ready
           to pick. All this happened with the radio on
all night in the corn rows, playing Gershwin, Debussy, 
           Poulenc, so as to not alarm the deer but suggest 
a presence in the garden alert to all shenanigans. 

I should have played something more aggressive, 
           maybe Wagner or Beethoven or maybe 
Shostakovich, at least that would have been 
           fit accompaniment to their marauding
presumption, each note a cue for the masked
           and wrathful raccoons. Of course I was wrong.
Seeing it in retrospect, with the eye of a director,
           this mistaken music was horribly mismatched
to their rough choreography. It must have induced
           some parody of adagio, a bestial dance
emphasizing clumsiness. Now I blame myself
           for their rampage, the loss my fault, my profound
misunderstanding of animal behavior. The price?
           The corn field, my treasure, crowning jewel of
my garden, trashed and mauled and bitten to pieces.

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About Susan Thomas

Susan Thomas has published two poetry collections, State of Blessed Gluttony (Red Hen Press, 2004, Benjamin Saltman Prize) and The Empty Notebook Interrogates Itself (Fomite Press, 2011). She also has two chapbooks, and is co-translator of Last Voyage, a collection of Giovanni Pascoli’s selected poems (Red Hen Press, 2010). Her book of short fiction, Among Angelic Orders, is forthcoming from Fomite Press. She lives in New York City and Marshfield, VT, with her husband, writer Peter Sills.

One Comment

  1. Ginia Desmond
    Posted November 2014 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    The poem Frida n Frank…got my attention. Yes, a piñata! Good to keep things in perspective me thinks

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