"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
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.