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by George Held
A cottontail resided in my yard,
a nimble forager,
nibbler of lettuce and dandelion.
My neighbor sicced his hound, Lutz, on him,
cursing his garden
incursions, begrudging his needs
I offered sanctuary, studied his ways:
how he'd raise his head
from leafy repast, sniff the air,
rotate his ears like radar antennae, straining
for a sign of death—
bipedal, quadripedal, or winged.
Hearing no danger, he'd resume feeding,
then in slo-mo
he’d hop a few feet for fresh forage.
Once at dusk we surprised each other
in the yard and froze,
eyeing each other. Minutes ticked by,
and then I dropped to all fours and pressed
my incisors to wild carrot.
He fed too, and then I slowly hopped
his way a foot or two and stopped,
raising my head to sniff
the air and rotate my rabbit ears,
and I heard the rush of fur and turned
to see Lutz leap
the bushy boundary between yards
and land on my frozen friend,
breaking his neck,
and then trot off with his trophy for his master.
Now the shortening summer days seem longer,
the dew damper,
as I forage on all fours, alone.