At the Museum by Megan Turner

At the Museum

Sometimes I still think of that squirrel,
caught in Susan’s metal trap
above the open rafters,
neatly laid tables and fresh cut bouquets.
It wanted just a taste of something,
and we’d laid out muffins, tea.

Did you change your mind later,
think it a mistake to take him
into the woodshed,
muting his cries with a woolen blanket?

“It only takes a day,” you said,
carrying him out gingerly,
work gloves on.
And I didn’t stop you.

“You don’t have medical,”
you reminded me.
We were two grad students—
I just out of school.
I thought you understood
what I did not.
The squirrel might have rabies, parasites,
We were just following orders
while Susan visited her mother.

Still, I sometimes imagine I saved
that squirrel—
that I was brave, the way I dreamed
myself to be.

“Come friend,” I said, driving him deep
into the woods, opening the metal trap.
“Don’t come back now,” I told him.
“Not even for a crumb.”

The squirrel, being gracious,
nodded. “Understood,”
he said and scurried off
into the forest to meet his friends.

“Nearly starved,” he told them.
“Do you have an acorn, some berries
to spare?”
It was an exaggeration. That squirrel
was always making up stories.
Although I knew it wasn’t—

because it didn’t happen that way.
Instead, we waited until dark
when the muffled cries stopped.
You emptied the cage from the shed.
I never saw the squirrel’s face—
how stiff its body must have been
when you pulled it from the cage,
a claw tangled in between
one of the wires.

After it was done, the trap
returned to the back veranda,
you shrugged.
You’d tell Susan later
you caught one of her pesky squirrels.
“Well done,” she’d say.
“One of my better docents,”
she’d nod at you later.

We went about our business,
washing dishes and drying,
careful with the porcelain,
while I remembered
running chairs with you
across the sunken garden,
our feet soaked.
Things would inevitably change
between us, you told me that day,
once summer ended.
And I said nothing—
just as I always do.

by Megan Turner

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem leads the reader on an adventure, but it isn’t until the last few lines that one realizes the story is more emotional quandary than memory.


2 responses to “At the Museum by Megan Turner”

  1. Nancy Smiler Levinson Avatar
    Nancy Smiler Levinson

    A remarkable narrative poem, Megan Turner : )

  2. Nan Bogue Avatar
    Nan Bogue

    So visceral. I hope it’s not true – for the squirrel’s sake and for yours. The squirrel lost its life, just being a squirrel, and you lost a friend, just trying to be a friend. You never wanted to be a docent.

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