Poem In Which I Am At One With Nature

A dachshund with such a loss of spring in its step
that its stomach actually touches the ground
as it walks down the long gravel yard,
eats pieces of bread from my palm every day.
We have become friends.

The owner here keeps a cassowary in a large pen
at the very back of the garden.
Every day I watch it move around. It ignores me,
mostly, and it’s feet press into the sandy floor,
letting me know I’m half its size.
Sometimes I think I might be of some interest
to it, but I think it’s looking through me,
plotting a means of escape.
I’m the poster in front of the tunnel.

Over dinner the owner tells me to be afraid of it.
They can’t fly, but they can kill you, very easily.
Its middle claw is the size and sharpness of a dagger.
Best not to go up there every day –
it will think you want a fight.
I ask what the cassowary is called.
She gestures with her hand and says ‘The bird.’

I have fallen in love with the girl who serves us breakfast.
One day I ask for the porridge to be thickened,
just to be able to look her in the eye. She takes my bowl,
nods towards it and says ‘This is the right way.’
as the sun flashes through her red dress,
outlining her strong thighs
as she walks down the stairs, away from me.

I swim through the leaves in the pool with the tiny frogs.
I have never felt so close to nature as when a bird
lands on the sandwich
that has almost reached my mouth and eats with me.
I am smiling absentmindedly a lot of the time.
I’m sure I can hear the trees trying to finish a breath.

Rebecca Perry

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