Poems by Penelope Schott

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Among the Other Animals

by Penelope Schott

From Canary Winter 2009-10

Penelope lives on a ridge which separates the Tualatin River valley from the Willamette River, upstream of where the Willamette joins the Columbia.

Please excuse me as I carry this leg-waving beetle
out to the yard and watch it go.

Surely it values its walking to and fro upon the earth
as I value my own.

Sometimes I envy the salmon who knows how to go
back to the river in which it hatched.

I have been at sea a long time and am sniffing
my way home. This is the estuary

where the test of selfhood is not words or tools
nor any ability to anticipate death.

Nights when I answer the screech owl, music vibrates
the back of my throat,

a language half known: a Spanish speaker almost
understanding Portuguese,

until I become one in the common clan of beasts,
the animal itself, akin to kin.

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