The Squirrels of Mont-Royal

Shouldn’t they be sleeping,
fat, full and warm
in the splintered armour
of a skeleton tree?
Such thin-boned feet
don’t seem right
for mountain snow.

They shiver in the granite cold,
imagining the luxuriant tails
that flair out blind
behind them
creeping forward
to cover rat bodies.

The snow
steals heat,
blanketing bodies
in its own liquid
then hardening
like a spider’s
cocoon.

In the motion
that might save them,
they stop suddenly,
stand straight and respectable
on scrawny hind-legs,
extend webbed bones
for whatever I can spare.

Maybe they should have planned
for the worst:
this winter of full-body ice
not even a flame could penetrate —
but how do you plan
for a winter such as this one?

A winter coming
just the same.

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