91 Woodstock Road
Less timid each day the squirrel comes to our door
for her morning conker. I’ve gathered them from
by the Faculty Library, enough to keep her supplied
well into winter. In quick paws she spins it
cleaning its shell, then bounds and ripples away
to bury it somewhere. I’ve watched her dig one up
for relocation in the lee of the wall.
Storms have wrecked the neat domain of the man
who comes each week, sent here by the College,
with a switchy broom to sweep and gather leaves
and tidy beds. In a voice all ois and rrs
he tells me squirrels bury their nuts in pairs,
one to be eaten, one to germinate –
planting ahead by arrangement with the trees.
Today’s seminar by an Australian professor
is “Evils of Empire and the Transformative Power
of Post-Colonial texts”. Fluent and abstract,
certain of virtue, he invites us all to join him
in a righteous chorus. I think of Mrs Squirrel’s
ease of instinct. Consciousness comes at a cost.
C K Stead