What is the terminal velocity of a squirrel?
my son once asked

(only the gods know what
precipitated his inquiry),

no doubt hoping
for a literal response;

but I couldn’t help

whether the fall that fails
to attenuate its consequent

landing, misses the mark,
or strikes true?

While certain Rodentia have
inherited the uncanny

fortune of built-in
arm-to-ankle extensions,

evolution withholds
such membranous solutions

to our own, inborn
predilection for doom.

What profit is to be
won of our climbing—

of so much inching along
the highest branches until

they can no longer bear
our weight—

much less of our retreats,
our blunderings, our plummets?

Does the sole stepping
forth create the target,

or obliterate its imprinted
eons from the forest loam?

Terminal is an attitude,
I wish I’d known enough to tell him,
having little to do with velocity,
& much to do with trajectory.



“Terminal” was published by editor extraordinaire Barton Smock in Isacoustic* in October 2019.


8 thoughts on “Terminal

  1. Love the conclusion about “terminal,” perhaps because I agree with you. 🙂

    Lucky the woman who gets to live among flying squirrels, and witness that extension. Let me just say, unhiply, that they’re so cool. Human imagination pales beside that of Nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this one for its poeticness (wonderful!) but even more for the reference to your son’s question coming from unexplained curiosity and connections no one but he (if even he) could articulate. This reconnects me to memories of my son saying astounding things in his high school years. I learned soooo much from my son! Things I’d never have thought to even inquire about! Squirrels, to my recall, weren’t ever discussed. So now I’m learning from your son as well. Love it! (Did I already say that? Worth repeating.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • For someone who often takes things quite literally, Matthew is somehow a living metaphor. His rich and precise observations are daily treasures, and I’m grateful that I just happened to notice somewhere along the line. Both of my children have taught me in their uniquely keen ways how to be present and listen, and basically to embrace rather than disparage my own ADHD impulses as my upbringing tried to condition me to do (I therefore enjoy a healthy incidence of mid-sentence “SQUIRREL!” moments, which feed my poetic life…). “Attention Deficit” is hardly an apt description of what their mighty brains do as a matter of course–it’s more of an “Attention Modulation Difference,” which has been frowned upon as an undesirable trait in “Human Capital Stock” (as a WH adviser recently uttered aloud in quite the sinister revelation…), but which is vital for a meaningful, rewarding life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good observations … I think differences are essential to the collective. I too was encouraged to force my kids into the standard mold of thinking/behaving. Of course, that didn’t work! They are who they are, and I am lucky to be in their circle of influence (even if … maybe especially when … I don’t exactly “get it”).

    We’re headed east to Arkansas today … back in 10 days … husband just retired (no more public school dictates in our lives) and we’ll celebrate by isolating in the Airstream and digging for crystals. What would the conformists say about THAT?

    Liked by 1 person

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