June Runner Up

Our second place for this month goes to Denni Turp – congrats!

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World – by Denni Turp

11 p.m. Mid-March. Another cold snap, 

and it’s wet and dark. Time for bed.

But unexpectedly, she’s there,

poised against the plughole in the bathroom sink,

though not quite stilled, not yet asleep.

We worry what’s the best thing we can do

to help, to keep her safe for now.

We’re sure at least it’s warm and dry.

We leave the light on for her

and close the door.

In the morning, she’s still there,

her movements even fewer, less pronounced.

We find a twig and twist it in a jar,

collect sufficient sweetness she will recognise

as hers, gift it to her in the hope

it will restore her strength. It’s warm and dry

in there, we’re sure. We keep the light on for her

and we close the door.

We check at intervals, observe the movements

of her careful tongue to take in fuel,

the gradual raising of antennae, of her thread-like limbs.

Mid-morning, and her wings begin to lift and hum.

It’s brighter now, no rain, though grey and chill,

and so we carry her outside, place her

in a sheltered spot and hope she’ll be okay.

We go inside and close the door.

By lunchtime, rain is steady, hard.

She’s under cover—more or less—

but not enough, and so I brave the wet

to build a shelter from old lengths of wood,

make it good, three layers alternating, hoping it will do.

She’s steady, balanced, but she shows no clear intent

to fly. The good news is that last night’s snow

begins to melt, our intermittent spring and thaw

that led her here. I go inside. I close the door.

After lunch, I brave the rain again,

and she is gone. I check all over,

under leaves, across the ground in measured squares

in case she’s fallen, drowned in swelling puddles,

been washed into the mud, but there’s no sign of her.

I know there’s more of freezing weather yet to come

but I gather all my fragile hope inside

and close the door.

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