Kris Bigalk has recently published poetry in Water~Stone Review, the Cream City Review, and The New York Quarterly.  She lives near Minneapolis, where she directs the creative writing program at Normandale College, and curates the Banfill-Locke Reading Series.

 

“My favorite libation is a warmed snifter of fine cognac, enjoyed in front of a roaring fire with a book of poetry.”




A Poem by Kris Bigalk

Photo by Suzanne Parker

Pest Control



 

When Arleen tells me she drowns squirrels to save


her tulips and iris from their hungry little paws,


I, impressed, thrilled, horrified, imagine the lithe,


gray body banging against the mesh of the live-trap cage


as Arleen dips it into a large tub of cold water, how its head


arches back as it hits the top, floating with its little lung


balloons, until it finally inhales the chill, falls


silent.  It is more generous, she says, then driving


the cage out past Lake Minnetonka, freeing the brat


into the woods, where the other squirrels will taunt, bite,


starve it until it curls up under a tree root and shivers


its way to death.  It is more generous, she says,


than shooting the rodent with a bb gun, maiming it, blind


with pain, until it dies in its nest from infection or blood loss.


 


But I am more of a coward, Arleen.  When pressed, I can’t


watch the final struggle, holding gently


until it’s over.  No, I leave loves in hospital beds, abandoned


to starvation of food or air, or surrender them, wounded


beyond repair, to the mercy of doctors and nurses –


and when it is over, they are gone, my hands clean, dry, my garden


full of perfect red tulips, frowzy purple iris, the walnut tree


heavy with green-skinned nuts.