by Christopher Todd Anderson

The wife and I wanted to get back to nature,
wanted nighttime water-songs to dampen
the day’s stiff stresses. We built a house
with cedar roof beams and hardwood floors.
We built a stream through our living room.
It entered through a slot set low
to the foundation; water flowed through
a plastic flap we installed to keep out
mosquitoes. Lovely at first, it reflected
sunshine filtered through the skylight.
The water plashed and cooed like a mother
lulling children. But after two weeks, frogs
started coming through the flap. The frogs
didn’t like what was on TV. The bullfrog
said brahp! Spring peepers sang singsingsing;
it’s the only song they know. Two trout swam
into our house, stuck their eyes above water
and looked around. They didn’t like the modern
furniture and swam on. Birds entered too:
kingfishers, water thrushes, a small cloud
of sparrows, two blue jays, a single vireo.
We were trying, the wife and I, to sustain
normalcy: toast for breakfast, lawn trimmed
to two inches, kids off to preschool by eight-thirty.
Mornings, sometimes, fog trailed along
the oakwood floor. White-footed mice
built a campfire in one corner and roasted
sunflower seeds they’d filched from the scatter
underneath our birdfeeder. We began
to question our decision. We pitched
a tent in our bedroom and it felt like camping.
Things were alright for awhile, we liked
birds, talked of living in true harmony.
But we waited hours for the raccoons
to finish up in the bathroom; we mopped blood
from the kitchen floor because a bobcat
had a recipe card with one word: kill. Moss
coated the carpet, lichens crusted the bedposts.
Crickets chirruped while we howled and howled.


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