Poetry Corner: Squirrel Feeding (On Immigration)

Our bird feeder is a simple thing:
A flat tray whose shallow sides
Are bottomed by a screen mesh,
Suspended by lines dangling from a tree
About five feet off the ground.

Early each morning we shovel seeds
With few pickings left the next day.
That’s because we feed the squirrels.
We try to feed the birds but like every winter
And most of the time, we feed the squirrels.

The birds remain the primary target
Of our missional outreach ministry
But the squirrels seem to know,
Always to know, how to get the good stuff.
And we feed the deer also.

There are ways to defend against them
And the squirrels and other rodentia
But this involves complications
And contraptions of successive intricacies;
Lifting this lever while lowering that bar.

Given the impropriety of the squirrels
Such defenses are designed against,
These apparati are immodest, unelegant,
And we have made a simpler choice:
Put out enough food and enough will feed.

No deer or squirrel will get fat
Upon the small charity we play out.
We do not enable the wildlife
Who should fend for themselves
With just a slim meal for today.

The birds still come too, of course,
Though put off by the interlopers
They don’t take enough umbrage
Not to help themselves to what they need
And mostly when they need it.

We are not overrun with the beasts,
No purse strained and our homeland is safe
Though there is a bit more dancing
Going on up there on our roof
Than before we started with the helping.

But the silly little truth is that since
We have enough to feed them all
I should not choose who gets my stores;
And do so without complaint but joy
Which is how God treats me from always.

- Philip Carr-Jones


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