Haute Dish The Arts & Literature Magazine of Metropolitan State University Icicles
Spring 2005


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safe space
By Naomi Jackson

A flash of color bursts from the snow-laden sky. Bird murmurs and wing whispers mingle with the wind. Safe in the old box elder a chickadee grasps its prize with its toes and breaks it open, relishing the seed inside. Cardinals wait to be admired before converging on the feeder. A nuthatch backs down a tree, debating whether to grace us with its presence. The juncos do clean-up duty, clucking over the sloppy habits of their mess mates. A jay drops in uninvited, cries of “Thief!” alarming the others until they realize it is just a ploy. They hover, annoyed, in the shelter of the lilacs. The jay stuffs its cheeks, adjusts its blue uniform, and flies off to hide its booty. Soon the yard is busy again, a concerto of scratchings and peckings, finch squabbles and crackling seeds. Between courses, one or another of our guests will fly up to the second-floor balcony and march along the railing, peering at the strange creatures inside. We peer back, just as curious. The housebound cat stalks across the carpet and lurks beneath the window where the feeder hangs. A sudden lunge and a batting of paws against glass, and our guests flit off, startled. But soon they are back, laughing and chattering. The cat withdraws haughtily and lays down by the balcony door, where she tries to stare down a squirrel who is helping himself to leftovers. We linger in bed, safe and warm, and wonder what would happen if we called to say, "We can't come to work today. We have guests."

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