Poetry: Squirrel Poem by Meg Eden
In “Squirrel Poem,” the speaker comes to terms with the fate of the discarded, the squirrels on the road, the neglected graduate students. Ultimately, the speaker confronts this otherwise harsh reality: “We will make them look at us.”
A run-over squirrel lays in the road,
but this isn’t enough to write a poem. The road
is filled with dead squirrels. Why write
about this one? The pathos of his entrails
remind me that we write our obituaries
in job applications. On the last day of work,
an exit interview asked me:
any advice on how we can find your replacement?
There are plenty of English professors in the road.
Vultures, like estate sale shoppers, pick
at what’s unspoiled. They leave
with their beaks and claws full, the way I scavenged
for food at department symposiums,
trying to survive graduate school. I brought trays
of leftover sandwiches back to my husband
(the departments insisted). Sometimes they gave us
so much it would spoil before we could eat it all.
What sick waste.
Dead animals clutter every road. I slow
at each downed body, want
the radio noise to be enough
to drown out their breaking bones. I want to think
swerving offers some grace—don’t we all
deserve that much? I am exhausted,
dear dead squirrels. We leave
what we love to provide, only to be made
carrion. The road listens to no stories.
Everyone calls us expendable, but we
will mark everything we touch.
We will make them look at us.