Hoping to entice things with feathers,
we constructed many types of feeders,
the ones the squirrels could climb,
equipped with little remote-control guillotines,
and the ones that nothing could climb.
We tried all the commercial varieties of seed
and then began to experiment with our own
mixtures of fern seed, seed money, and dragon’s teeth.

When we hit on the right combination
after n(n - 1) attempts,
over a winter of sleepless nights,
they began to crystallize out of the frosty air,
to delicately cock their heads and dilate their pupils
and blink rapidly at the pungent fumes
emanating from the bait.
After they had stopped struggling and finally
hung upside down, stunned and somnolent,
we carefully detached their little claws from the lime
and inserted them at the beginning of each chapter
in the family Book of shadows,
and when their plumage had compressed
and flattened to transparent thinness
we mounted them on white velvet,
behind bulletproof glass, in silvergilt frames
with a small brass plaque engraved with
a description of what each one had once
intended to become

©2002 F.J. Bergmann

"Volition" appeared in Wind #87

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