The Jungle In My Backyard

As I sit on the patio and look
Out into my back yard, the scene appears
So peaceful, bright sunlight warming the green lawn,
Creating an idyllic setting.
A yellow butterfly floats lazily
Through the yard. A flash of movement catching
My eye, I notice a bird hopping on
The lawn, head cocked sideways listening for
The quiet sound that a worm makes when pushing
Through the soft earth. The bird pecks suddenly
Extracting his long, wiggly lunch from the ground
And rapidly swallowing it. At that
Precise moment, a blur of motion comes
Streaking out from under the mound of
Pampas grass and leaps through the air all teeth and
Claws. In a swirl of fury, my neighbor's
Black and white cat has killed the bird and
Now sits with the dead wormkiller held firmly
In its mouth as a few displaced feathers
Float softly to the ground. Noticing the cat,
My Corgi that had been lying peacefully
Beside my feet, springs to life, rushing at
The cat, barking ferociously. The cat
Makes a mad dash for the back fence, lunging
Upwards to scale its vertical face and
Disappear into the neighbor's yard. My dog
Prances proudly at his successful defense
Of his territory, evoking a grin
From me. I suddenly become aware
Of intense stinging in my right calf.
Instinctively I swat the spot, producing
A black and red smudge against my leg. Increased
Stinging and swelling informs me that the
Mosquito had nearly completed its
Blood meal before being interrupted by death.
Hoping this miniature vampire did not
Inject me with that encephalitis
Virus now prevalent throughout the area,
I get up and go inside, thinking what
A lovely afternoon it had been,
Completely unimpressed by the three deaths,
The violent aggression and blood letting
I had just witnessed, typifying the
Human response to the death and mayhem
That surrounds us daily in the natural world.
Rarely does mankind pause to reflect on
How much Nature cruelly functions on a
Kill-or-be-killed basis, preferring instead
To remain impervious to the constant carnage
Through which living things survive and prosper
At the expense of lesser living things.

Harry Edward Gilleland      11.03.01