tagNon-Erotic PoetryThe Great Squirrel Migration of 1968

The Great Squirrel Migration of 1968



The Great Squirrel Migration of 1968


“…whenever the number of dead squirrels on highways
      exceeds an average of more than one per ten miles, it
      can be assumed that some sort of unusual activity is taking place.”
              Vagn Flyger


Was it more that strange September,
more than the squirrels that lined
roadways with their furry corpses?
Was it more than the rivers, lakes
and reservoirs floating with the dead?

They danced oddly on the highways,
jumping in the air, zig and zagging
across the asphalt, before a pirouette
into the trees or simply freezing
in a final mortal pique before the cars.

There were the swimmers, all headed north
in waters still inviting, still warm
while the rescuers couldn’t turn
that northward wet scurry of squirrels,
their attention fixed on some distant aspect.

Baffled scientists wondered, noting
only gray squirrels on the pilgrimage,
red squirrels remained with their caches
and the fox squirrels never traveled,
was it just a “fall reshuffle?”

They counted acorns, they counted squirrels,
they counted fleas and trees, even chiggers
as they positively, almost decided, then wondered,
speculating, “Perhaps too many squirrels
and too few acorns?” But that’s happened before.

So they made their list, created grandiose tables:
“Sex and Age of Road-Killed Squirrels”
in New York State, North Carolina and Maryland,
while Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey
never seemed to notice the northerly march.

Northward the people waited, motorist in Vermont
counting as they drove, scientist wrote in books
and hunters hid in the brush listening for silent footfalls
in the leaves, for the swimmers in the lakes,
everyone watching for road dancers and leapers.

Suddenly it was over, the squirrels just slipped away,
no one saw it happen, they just returned to their trees
just as the scientists had feared, by the time
most heard of it, it was over and they never learned why
because in 1969, the gray squirrels all stayed home.

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