In lieu of a camera
In the park, at eight this morning
A men’s singles tennis match skids
Along wet asphalt, volleying
And far off commuters hiss
Their way to work
Through thick sky spray.
One, fat, wood pigeon
Takes a short-cut jacuzzi
To puddled bedragglement.
Sodden roses hum
An old show tune
Whilst bruised petals
Fading fast, fall…
As I walk,
At these sinful feet
My mud soles
Soil in my toes
From bringing in
barefoot 4 a.m. washing
As MC thunder interrupted
To announce the rains
I may have sunk to a new low. I am wearing a hat indoors. I habitually wear a coat indoors, after the autumn equinox, but today I answered the door to my neighbour in a hat. I have answered the door to her in a variety of coats over the years, but the sight of the hat caused gales of laughter at my expense. I had quite forgotten it was on my head, plus which it keeps me warm. I’ll be driving the car in it next.
I saw this tree trunk on an abbreviated dog walk earlier today. The dog would wear a hat if he could too – he hates the frost-bitten ground and Siberian chill factor. Whilst he was staring at something in the far-off beyond, I found a hat on the football pitch. It was not dissimilar to my own, apart from being frozen solid and flat. I could have used it as an offensive weapon. Instead I put it on the tree trunk and took this photo too.
I can see the squirrel about fifty metres away. I must have my spectacles on otherwise I would not see anything. The squirrel is well out of its ground – equidistant between two substantial trees; in short, much too far away from guaranteed arboreal safety for my liking.
My dog, the barbarous Hibernian, has not yet seen it. He has no need of eye-glasses. As a sighthound, his eyes do what it would have said on the tin if they had come in one… which they very well might have so bionic are their powers, compared to my pathetic efforts at long distance vision with the naked eye. Without my non-tinted, non anti-scratch-coated (extras I live without), diamante-studded (included in the price) spectacles anything on the horizon is a blur.
I know if it so much as twitches, which it surely will, that being a main squirrel activity in life, the dog will see it immediately and it is doomed. I shout and become most animated – much waving my arms about and calling repeatedly ‘Where’s the ball?’ The dog does not turn in my direction. He has his back to me, but if I could see his face I know I would see his eyes narrow.
His shoulders tense together and drop a little lower. He is not a Pointer, yet somehow he manages a respectable half-point in the direction of the furry grey rodent. The squirrel crouches, oblivious. I am transfixed.
I want it to stop before it starts but it is too late. And when did it start in any case? When I decided to walk him here, in the park. Not really, I deliberately headed this way, to the tennis courts and grassed football pitches and away from the trees because it is squirrel season. I came this way to avoid squirrels. And here is this idiot prey animal, miles out of its ground, asking for trouble. Did it start when I decided to spend my half an hour lunch hour (that’s what a working mother ends up with: half of what everyone else does) walking the ingrate hound? Or was the squirrel’s fate signed when it was born, surely after I had found the dog in my possession? Who knows, existential questions are impossible enough for the human condition to answer without trying to apply the model to a squirrel whose existence is in imminent mortal danger.
The dog takes off. Even with significant yardage to make up the dog is too fast. The squirrel runs, it dodges, and finally darts through the high, wire netting that surrounds the tennis courts. With no apparent entrance for dogs to the courts, he is foiled.