Refill the black oil sunflower seeds
for cardinals, titmice, wrens. Replace
the suet cake for downy woodpeckers,
flickers, grackles that will eat it down
to the wire cage in less than a day.
Throw apple cores and kale stems
off the porch, onto the crust of snow.
Coyotes yip the moon across the sky.
Come morning, lines of split-hooved tracks
spell out how deer tore up the earth for more.
When bread grows leprous leopard spots,
tear it, scatter chunks below the tube
of glittery nyjer seed. See, then, pawprints,
soft as blotted lipstick, marking the snow—
it’s hunting birds, I’ve set a trap—
but no, the skinny cat has snatched a hunk
of moldy bread and locks his yellow eyes
on mine before he streaks away. The world
is starving, everything that lives is a mouth,
and I cannot afford to be their god.
Juliana Gray’s third poetry collection, Honeymoon Palsy, is forthcoming from Measure Press. Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Birmingham Poetry Review, Ecotone, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and teaches at Alfred University.