There is no time for dancing when you grow up the middle son
of five in a farmhouse filled with somebody-else-might-get-this.
Maybe that’s why he loved killdeer. Maybe that’s why
he performed his own scrape ceremony three-quarters
of a mile from the original nest, shoring up the river-backed
yard so it would weather future floods. Maybe that’s why
he performed his own broken-wing dance, luring
a rabid skunk away from the wedding tent before
nailing it with a single shot the day his youngest married.
Born in ground nests, killdeer chicks learn to run quickly
to increase their chance of survival. Maybe that’s why
Leanne Shirtliffe is a writer who teaches literature and creative writing in Calgary, Alberta. She is at work on a poetry collection at the intersection of farming, feminism, and family. Her latest work appears in Stanchion.