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They were always only bushy-tailed rats.

Rodents. Pests. Vermin. Nuisances.

Stealing the birdseed. Nesting in the crawl

spaces, gnawing insulation, causing shorts.

Until the day I hit one with my car.

Not deliberately, but just the same:

in the rearview mirror what I saw

was tail and hind legs motionless,

head and front paws jerking, waving

frantically, bewildered, dying, still alive.

I don’t care what you say, that squirrel

was in pain. I hope it died quickly.

I almost turned around and did the deed

myself, but traffic wouldn’t let me.

This was fifteen years ago at least,

but I still see that broken squirrel

frantic in the mirror of my memory

as if it happened yesterday.

“Squirrels” first appeared in Wolves in Winter, Between Shadows Press, 2021.

W.D. Ehrhart grew up in Perkasie, graduated from Pennridge High School, was named the 1983 Bucks County Poet Laureate and was inducted onto the Pennridge Wall of Fame in 2003. He is a frequent contributor of guest opinions to the Herald.

Poet’s Corner is curated by Bucks County Poet Laureate Tom Mallouk and supported by a grant to the Bucks County Herald Foundation made possible by Marv and Dee Ann Woodall.

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