Harrison Birch

If you say “good morning,” he will look up

from his weeding, or whatever he is doing in

the fenced area of his front yard, look at you

as if he just caught you mid-squat in the dirt,

and turn his wrinkled nose away. If you knock

on his door to talk about his rusted Accord

blocking your driveway, you see his scowling

face in the window—his greeting, a middle finger.

He’s been known to throw things. The family next

door know not to say anything as they pass by

on the sidewalk; he will snarl at them, and nod

to Mr. Torkington, their pet Doberman.

 

His house smells like musty papers and

dog food. Scout troops are warned from

approaching his door, a girl fractured her

leg when he had chased her away from

his stoop with a rolled up newspaper.

Animal control makes annual inspections

of his house. One time a concerned neighbor,

startled by all the rabbits, called for a wellness

check. They came and took hundreds of

floppy-eared, snuffling rabbits away in crates,

while he hovered by the front door and sobbed.

 

Spring finds him kneeling in the fresh dirt of his yard

tilling the soil with a trowel, he spies a baby robin

gray and ugly, crying in loud braying cheeps

—sounds too loud for such a tiny body—he

uses the trowel to expose pink fleshy worms

in the muck and the baby bird hops closer,

dodging nimbly between each shower of dirt.

“You deserve better,” he says, clucking his tongue,

and scans the sky for more friends.

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