Nature Poetry

Neither Sun, Nor Money

An oak tree won’t grow
underneath an oak tree.

Turns out neither
sun nor money
grow on trees.
So oak trees bribe squirrels
to spread their seeds.

But oaks in a forest also
synchronize their cycles,
dropping acorns all at once
ensuring that squirrels can’t possibly
eat them all.

Tumbling acorns
possess a fatty layer of lipids
which is squirrel candy.
The bottom is saturated with tannins,
a bitter chemical, surrounding
the seed embryo.

A squirrel picks up an acorn,
and shakes to discover what’s inside.
If it rattles around,
the expiration date has passed
and weevils are inside eating the fruit.
The squirrel eats
– weevils and all –

If the acorn is solid
the squirrel buries it,
a long-term investment
for the frigid days of frost

the fresher the acorn
the greater the distance
the squirrel stashes
from the parent tree.

All that sun-drenched distance
is great for the acorn’s chances
but not always the squirrel, as

birds of prey perch, scanning silent
the distance between trees
in search of their own
winter comfort food