Thursday, October 8, 2020

What Is Wild by Jean Ryan

"I won't hurt you," I want to say
to the spider crouched in my shadow,
to the lizard ready to run,
to the finch startled from the feeder,
to the squirrel already gone.
I have tried, again and again:
whispering the words,
slowly offering my palm,
searching those glossy black eyes,
as if I will never learn
that what is wild wants only
my distance.

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in coastal Alabama. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published by Ashland Creek Press and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Lovers and Loners is her second story collection. She has also published a novel, Lost Sister, and a book of nature essays, Strange Company.


  1. Lovely and true. Thank you Jean as I enjoy our resident squirrels gallop back and forth on the stone wall in front of our house gathering nuts for the winter ahead.

  2. a beautiful and poignant piece..thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel..

  3. Another beautiful poem. My sister’s love and respect for nature is always evident. In her words and her actions. With this poem she reminds us not to interfere. Touch with your eyes. Love from a distance. Let it be.