Sometimes I Do Not Know If I Should Tell My Children What I Have Seen
by Caroline Canter Triscik
I am out for a run at 10:24 a.m., the rhythm
of my sneakers on these suburban sidewalks
like a metronome waiting
for the music’s accompaniment—
picking up my pace when passing
the landscape companies who mow and trim
and manicure alongside. I learned very young
not to trust a man who leers too long.
An unexpected hawk swoops
out and up through the maple’s turning
leaves, the gray tail of a squirrel dangling
from its talons.
I gasp, audible to only me, yet keep
running. Not once, but twice
on this auspicious 15-minute run-walk-
run-walk do I witness this—what feels
like violence—the latter act
preceded by a cry that I had thought
the cry of our neighbor’s cat accidentally
left outside their front porch door. Now
I imagine it the cry of the mother anticipating
the emptiness of her nest.
The circle of life, I say when I recount
the story to my sons, the elder responding,
More like the circle of death. We are raising
peacemakers who stood on our state capitol’s
steps at 10 & 8, poster-board & Crayola marker
signs in hand that read in child-script: Our lives
are worth more than a gun and No Guns Okay
with a drawing resembling a pistol with a circle
surrounding and diagonal line across the middle.
Not Steve and Marshmallow, the younger
son says now, assuring himself of the livelihood
of these two neighborhood squirrels he named
when we moved to this suburban dream
six years ago. Turns out we do have
a neighbor named Steve, though no one
in this cul-de-sac, that we’re aware
of, goes by Marshmallow. I have a daughter
to whom I do not tell this story tonight she
is dancing, though will come home soon.
I vow to look up the life expectancy
of a squirrel, hoping these lives cut
short on this morning’s run were
not that abbreviated. And yet still
if I sit long enough in the silence,
remember the imagery, the cry, the horror
I felt returns, the tingling in my legs as I ran
through the cold autumn air, not letting
numbness begin again.
Caroline Canter Triscik is a poet, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Midwesterner transplanted to the East coast. She holds a B.A. in English from Purdue University and an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Messiah University. In her work as a writer and as a therapist, she believes that healing is found in connection with one another through words and presence.