Camp Robber

Swaying in a one-pound hiker’s hammock,
I fell asleep with an unwrapped package
of peanut butter crackers on my belly.

Bless the fact that it was afternoon
and we were all three sacked out in our hammocks,
but I was the only one asleep

with peanut butter crackers on his belly.
Bless the son then, who alerted me most quietly
to the gray jay just lit at the hammock’s edge.

Otherwise I wouldn’t have cracked an eye
to see. Otherwise I would have startled when it leapt
to my hip bone, where it seized a cracker

then waited, looking up my chest
to my half-open eyes and back down at the crackers.
It seemed to want to find a way

to take two wherever it was going.
I hoped it would come back.
And bless the other son who, from the opposite direction,

watched the camp robber soil my groin most elaborately—
a sudden wet smear of unwarmth through my shorts,
exactly the colors of the bird itself.

Still, bless this son for his restrained snort,
followed by repressed nasal titters,
so that the jay didn’t fly, but stayed on another minute or so,

while we all grew very quiet, as if our souls
were watching and grateful
and most of all uneasy, though we did not know why.

Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley’s most recent book is The True Account of Myself as a Bird (Penguin, 2022).A collection of essays (mostly about poetry), Nemerov’s Door, was published by Tupelo Press in 2021.He lives in the woods of northern Idaho, with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.
Robert Wrigley

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Author: Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley’s most recent book is The True Account of Myself as a Bird (Penguin, 2022). A collection of essays (mostly about poetry), Nemerov’s Door, was published by Tupelo Press in 2021. He lives in the woods of northern Idaho, with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.