Coffee On, I Stare at the Garden and Think About Borders - Nathaniel Cairney

As the neighbor’s chickens
aerate our lawn, I can’t help
thinking of how you hated

gates, even there, in America,
your front yard still fenceless
despite unforgiving creatures

turning up often. You caught
foxes slinking toward windows
where your cats napped.

Twice you saw a coyote,
once the prints of a cougar.
But your cats survived,

and besides, there were
warm August nights
when molting mallard mates

waddled in
to claim refuge
in the cool wet grass:

you would call me over
and we would melt
at the sight of them sleeping,

heads nestled in wing feathers,
flightless fragile bodies
curled beneath aspen branches,

                                    togetherness their only defense.

Nathaniel Cairney is an American poet and novelist who lives with his family in Belgium. His chapbook Singing Dangerously of Sinking was a finalist for the 2021 Saguaro Prize in Poetry, and his poems have been published in Midwest ReviewBroad River ReviewCalifornia Quarterly, and other literary journals.