Four pairs of feet dangle from the sofa—
mine are the only ones that can touch the floor.
The others belong to three giggling children
snuggling beside me to watch Disney’s
Going Wild with Jeff Corwin.
We are riveted to the television
as if watching the moon landing,
feeling as though we are fellow explorers
weaving through the tall grasses of the plains
or creeping beside Jeff on the jungle floor.
His urgent whisper, There it is!, makes our hearts pound
as we catch a glimpse of a stalking leopard
in South Africa, or a cobra ready to strike in Thailand.
We squeeze each others’ hands and squeal
when the adventure peaks and gets
deliciously scary. We are together and ready
Now, I am left to explore on my own,
my little ones flown away to their grown-up lives.
I’ve traded Jeff’s wilderness treks
for morning walks around my neighborhood,
parlayed giddy shrieks of enthrallment
into quiet awe and wonder.
Yesterday, I saw a cardinal on a birch tree,
as striking as a spot of blood on a white shirt.
I passed a field where six bare trees lay uprooted,
all in a row, like dead soldiers laid out for burial.
And my heart raced when a wide-eyed doe stepped
just meters in front of me, standing guard
as her dappled fawns crossed the street.
Mamas transfixed in each other’s presence,
one of us, at least, not wanting the moment to end.
I watched in silence, barely breathing,
as she flicked her tail and bounded off, into the wild.
Published in Third Wednesday, December 2020