Black as licorice, starlings peck through tufts of grass,
while squirrels skidder over lengthening shadows,
ransack the yard for last year’s acorns. A stray robin
hops stops hops stops. How quietly they go about
their business of knowing exactly where to find food.
It’s almost a comedy to watch these creatures cavort
among themselves without running into each other.
They do not provoke, as we do, worlds of trouble.
They parade the yard like ambassadors of April.
At the end of the yard, near rusty, chain link fence,
peonies poke an inch from hard, brown soil.
A nameless, random weed invades burning bushes
on the property line. New growth reveals it’s hiding
place from which it will be plucked come warmer days.

I watch these details from behind the dining room
window as the neighbor’s cat creeps into the picture.
I know it’s mission among birds all too well.
It’s slack tail and slinking paws prowl toward the back
of the shed and disappear. I think about the short time
each creature has and how its life is made of chance.
I could, if needed, chase the cat to save the birds.
It would be distressing to see a bird caught
in fuzzy jaws. At such a time, I feel omnipotent,
the power fall into my lap, that, right or wrong,
could stymie nature’s hunger.

R. Nikolas Macioci earned a PhD from The Ohio State University. OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named Nik Macioci the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. Nik is the author of two chapbooks as well as nine books: More than two hundred of his poems have been published worldwide.