Stephen Cushman


Fight or flight is not the only choice.
There's also freeze, as in Be still and know
catching a predator's eye can mean
fangs at the throat, claws in the belly.
So let's be still. Still as a squirrel
on the limb of an oak when in the next tree
a red-tailed hawk eviscerates a neighbor,
or maybe a mate, in its own leafy nest,
ripping gray fur away from the meat,
gulping it down, careless of bones,
while even to blink or wince or cringe,
when witnessing this, with tail curled tight,
is to be next on the list for talons and beak.