by Joseph Baldwin

Even when sitting on the lawn,
squirrels seem perched:
clinging as they do to ground
as if it might sway
in the next wind.
Never are they less than
tense, sinuously sleek.
Always poised for the quick
dart, the lunge, or
skittering flight to safety.

Never a wasted motion: witness
especially the flickering twitch
in a false direction before the
true thrust; such feints
are of most value.

They make fools of cats,
who, to salvage something,
break off the chase, subside,
and look regal and uncaring.


by Joseph Baldwin

I saw a squirrel launch himself
from a perch ten feet above where the trunk
of my elm forks to form a V,
and leap across to the other branch,
landing only a foot or so below
his departure point.
Inside such a quaint fur ball,
what suppleness, lithe grace!
How he gathered, flickered across
the space, then landed, again a ball,
and then slimmed out again
to scuttle along a limb!

Could this be only a search
for food, such a ballet?

I must believe he did it
for joy alone.

His flight, for flight it was,
was like words without music,
the words making me hear
a music of my own;
similarly, he wore, for a moment,
splendid and indescribable
wings — of my imagining.