It occurs to Sandra that the woodchuck (who has found its way somehow into her
living room and is eyeing Henry, her nephew napping in front of a baseball game on the
couch with her little Jenny using his ribcage as a pillow and sleeping too with the little
snores children make) looks like a miniature bear, just kind of out doing its own thing,
not hurting anyone. It seems more interested in just watching the cousins nap in this
time after Henry has helped Jenny with her math. Sandra is grateful enough that she
doesn’t want to bother either of them, grateful for Henry’s help, for Jenny’s life, for her
life, for crazy little woodchucks that have no sense of propriety, for the air, for the smell
of spring in the first weeks that green bounds across the field. It’s this gratitude (she will
decide later) that sends her into the kitchen where she takes the broom off the wall, and
instead of screaming at the thing to leave, simply ushers it out. It charges for the open
door with a little grunt as soon as the bristles touch its back, and Sandra steps out on
her porch and watches it run for a bit and then turn back to watch her and then
disappear into the woods across the street.
John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines, Writers Almanac, and The Best Small Fictions 2016 and 2022. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press). He is the founder and general editor of The Journal of Radical Wonder. He lives in Jamestown, NY.