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by Mary Langer Thompson

We wait to sign the guest book.
I study the grey squirrel
as he scurries amongst us
cocking his head from side
to side. So lively!
Aristotle called him
"skiouros," meaning
"he who sits in
the shadow of his tail."
This tassel's so bushy,
he could use it
as a blanket in winter.

My son steps toward him,
makes a tchrring sound.
The tail flicks and
the animal runs away.
"Stay away," I warn.
"What if he has a disease?"

My niece drops the fountain pen
and the squirrel picks it up in its mouth
and dashes away.
"Can you believe it?" she asks,
and takes off after it.
Returning, she says,
"We've been robbed!
It was such a classy quill.
Now it's probably buried in
that beast's midden."

From the car, as we follow
the others up the hill,
I see the squirrel
playing with the pen.
He has been hiding
in the shelter
of my father's hearse,
reminding me of the twinkle
in now closed eyes.


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