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.