“Prairie Dogs Disperse When All Close Kin Have Disappeared”

We waited. We longed for your warmth. The way
you know us better than we know ourselves.
The way you brought the squash casserole to
Thanksgiving. How we loved that casserole.
The way we saw you once—alone, gazing
out the kitchen window at the back yard
looking a bit as if you’d lost something,
then another time in full moonlight
standing at the edge of the yard during
a party like you were listening for
something in the music. Oh it was dry
in our world without you—your peripheries
were all your own, for you were firmly in
our hearts. Sooner than later, we lost
all interest in nourishment and our
reproductive success. What could have been
so bad in our little house in our little
town that you’d leave like that? Was it some
careless thing we said? Whatever it was,
we didn’t mean it, or didn’t mean it
that way. Was it that time one of us hollered at
the moon? Or when one who won’t be mentioned
got deep into the moonshine? Did you just
wander away on a whimsy, or were
you escaping or inescapably
drawn elsewhere? We looked and we waited,
disappearing one by one, here then gone.
We dispersed—each to our own loneliness
without our kin, without you. If we had
a place to stop, we’d wish you to come home.




The title is the title of an article by J. Hoogland, “Prarie dogs disperse when all close kin have disappeared,” Science http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6124/1205.long