Nuut! Junie 2021
Annie M.G. Schmidt
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by Billy Collins
On the morning of a birthday that ended in a zero,
I was looking out at the garden
when it occurred to me that the robin
on her worm-hunt in the dewy grass
had a good chance of outliving me,
as did the worm itself for that matter
if he managed to keep his worm-head down.
It was not always like this.
For decades, I could assume
that I would be around longer
than the squirrel dashing up a tree
or the nightly raccoons in the garbage,
longer than the barred owl on a branch,
the ibis, the chicken, and the horse,
longer than four deer in a clearing
and every creature in the zoo
except the elephant and the tortoise,
whose cages I would hurry past.
It was just then in my calculations
that the cat padded noiselessly into the room,
and it seemed reasonable,
given her bright eyes and glossy coat,
to picture her at my funeral,
dressed all in black, as usual,
which would nicely set off her red collar,
some of the mourners might pause in their grieving to notice,
as she found a place next to a labradoodle
in a section of the church reserved for their kind.
Billy Collins “Life Expectancy” from Whale Day.