Foxglove Moments

Alan's haunting novel of the AIDS epidemic, As If Death Summoned, was released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, and has won the Foreword INDIES LGBT Book of the Year Award. Watch the book trailer here. Read the reviews here.


 He perches on a branch outside my study, staring at me.
I know what he wants. He wants me to fill the bird feeders.
Like he’s nobly advocating on behalf of the birds.
I ignore him.

Over the next half hour, he continues his squirrelly attempt to shame me.
It’s not going to work. I will fill the feeders when I feel like it.
I address him through the window pane:
“You’re wild. You’re supposed to fend for yourself.
So, go away and do some fending.”
He pretends he doesn’t understand me.

Through the afternoon he will leave, return,
check the feeders [still empty] and resume his position,
same branch, same stance, same deeply aggrieved expression

hovering over my shoulder as I write,
like Poe’s raven (“Quoth the squirrel, Somemore!”)

It’s distracting. I draw the blinds—
then peek between the slats to see if he’s still there.
He stares at me peeking through the slats
and I realize how pathetic I am.

I return to my desk, refusing to concede to a rodent,
determined to get back into my writing trance.
I light a candle, close my eyes, breathe deep several times,
centering myself until finally reaching that theta state
where there is only me,
where there is only this pen,
where only this sheet of paper.

And a squirrel.

Frustrated, I beseech my muse for inspiration, for revelation, for insight.
At last, my muse speaks:
Feed the damn squirrel.

I put down my pen and go refill the feeders.




First posted: February 6, 2021



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