Squirrels in Washington come
Galloping at you in fours, then brake
To halt a few feet away
And beg on hindquarters.
No one stones them,
And their fear is diminished.
They do halt, even so,
Some feet away, those few feet
The object of my wonder. Do I
At closer quarters? Are those
The few feet I would keep
From a tame tiger? Is there
A hierarchy, then, of distances,
That must be observed,
And non-observance would at once
Agglutinate all of Nature
Into a messy, inextricable mass?
Ah Daphne! Passing
From woman to foliage did she for a moment
Sense all vegetable sap as current
Of her own bloodstream, the green
Flooding into the red? And when
She achieved her final arboreal being,
Shed dewy tears each dawn
For that lost fleeting moment,
That hint at freedom,
In transit, between cage and cage?
(From MIRRORED, MIRRORING published by Oxford University Press, Madras, 1991)