Tuesday, June 2, 2009

squirrel falling out of tree

Walking home from the nearby Giant Eagle supermarket this morning, I saw a squirrel fall out of a tree. It fell directly in front of my path, exactly one concrete square ahead of me on the sidewalk. And it fell on the concrete from a low-hanging branch, with a fur-muffled thwack.

(This squirrel photo was actually copyrighted
by a douchebag who spends his free time
photographing squirrels and chipmunks.
On principle, I refuse to credit him here.)

I laughed audibly. I don't particularly like squirrels, ever since Vassar, where they roamed the campus without fear and, more irritatingly, with a sense of entitlement. However, my laughter's source was not in malice. I had no wish for a large predatory bird (a Giant Eagle?) to swoop down and snatch the fallen rodent. Nor did I find joy in the small animal being hurt, because it wasn't. In a blur of brown fluff, it righted itself and scurried off uninjured, for the base of the tree from which it had fallen.

Rather, I laughed because I looked in its rodent eyes and saw my same surprise of it falling from the tree before me reflected therein. Its eyes said, "I can't believe I just fell." Or maybe more precisely, "I can't believe I just fell where you (a human being) could see me fall." As if it had just broken some squirrel code -- don't ever let the tall, two-legged ones see you fall.

It scurried off -- not out of fear or instinct -- but because it hoped no squirrels in neighboring trees witnessed its fall. And if they did, an ultra-quick exit from the scene might -- just might -- erase the faux pas from their memory. The same way you quickly righted your chair in the 5th grade, after leaning back on two legs and falling backward in the middle of class.

At least that's what I was thinking when I crossed the last street before my block and caught the curb with the lip of my Teva toe. It wasn't enough to trip me up, but it did jostle the coffee cup in my hand just enough to belch a few beads of hot coffee out from its sipping lid, over its rim and down into the soft skin between my thumb and forefinger.

It didn't burn badly enough to trigger my dormant fear of coffee somewhere buried in my subconscious, but it was enough of a nuisance that I shouted "Fuck!" out loud. And, to my immediate left, a playground full of grade-schoolers stopped playing at recess, and their teachers stood and lasered their gazes into my face.

I rushed home like the squirrel back to its tree. Stupid squirrel. Stupid poetic justice.


Anonymous said...

why don't you allow unedited comments?

the poetman said...

why do you ask anonymously?

the poetman said...

you're not the douchebag squirrel photographer, are you?