We pay rent to the animals,
to the raccoons who plunder the plum
trees, smacking and swallowing
like little hunchbacked beasts. To the squirrels
who pick the most pregnant of apples
and leave pine cone trails
on the patio. To the Oregon’s giant house
spiders, scrabbling frenzies across oak floors,
whisked out with Windex-soaked newspapers
to keep on willing a mate outdoors. The skunks
with their cactus tails and viper heads,
nosing through spilled cereal
from our mornings on the oiled swing.
And the deer, whose clumsy steps
betray their graceful thighs, calves
like fine buffet legs and breasts riding proud.
For them we pay in fat blackberries,
splitting cherries and red pears. But the roses…
those I dust in curry powder
and tight pinches of turmeric. Perennials
are for us, and the animals, the poor things,
they blanch and choke at the bite.