You appear in my frame of vision as I glance out the back door
as I’m on the phone with a friend
talking about the hollow shell of our President,
and the crumbling ash of Lindsey Graham’s soul.
I interrupt my friend to tell her about you, and as I do,
you slow to a stop.
Then, cautiously step forward, and wait again
It’s possible you heard me exclaim aloud at the sight of you –
the glass door thin; your senses keen.
It’s possible that my presence is as strange and exciting to you
as you are to me.
Or do I simply alarm you?
You look left, right,
halfway over your shoulder,
lower your head.
You begin walking again with what looks like trepidation, a hesitant skulk.
Or, is this the normal gait of a nocturnal creature inexplicably bathed in late afternoon sunlight?
Or, are you surveying the area for enemies?
Am I them?
Which brings me to the issue at hand.
How sorry I am for how carelessly we treat the place we call home.
Forgive us for crowding you out,
For somehow deeming tract housing, strip malls, and traffic circles more important than your continued survival.
For leaving you with little more than patches of grass,
spindly new saplings in place of old-growth trees now leveled,
whose limbs stretched out and up
to support, sustain, shelter.
I try to memorize you as you walk slowly and carefully through the side yard.
The bandit mask of fur around your eyes flecked with gray, gold, and brown
The light gray fur of your body dotted white, charcoal, and umber.
But it’s your tiny hands, gloved black
that seem somehow miraculous.
I imagine you using them to pop off the garbage can lid
in the deepest part of the night,
eager to dig into my leftover spaghetti,
and upon finishing,
upending the can and its remaining pungent, oozing contents
and leaving it
a ripe example of our carelessness,
reckless excess and wastefulness,
a mess we really ought to clean up.
I watch as you disappear into the drainage ditch,
in which lazy, passing drivers throw candy wrappers, beer cans, and once,
an entire Styrofoam cooler.
You deserve better than us.
Sometimes I think we should all die under the weight of all the waste
we’ve ever created.
Look for me beneath a turquoise Frankie Goes To Hollywood t-shirt,
pounds of dirty napkins,
31 years of tampons,
and whole forests of paper.
No more dramatic, I’d say, than forcing you out of your home
into the late afternoon sun,
seeking a safer place to snooze
until night falls,
and I finally say, I’m sorry.