Terra Irredenta

Washington, D.C.

A doe and fawn in our driveway—
Two fox cubs play in the yard.
A pair of red-tailed hawks patrol

the ravine where again we find
crayfish, frogs, fingerlings in the stream
before the water flows into a pipe.

Long fled from our spreading city,
they reappear after the rain
in pairs as from Noah’s Ark,

then phalanxes, battalions, armies:
crows cawing, rats scuttling,
roaches and termites, mandibles clicking.

Wanted, unwanted—not their concern.
By instinct they sense our weak spots.
They are reclaiming terrain.

This road, once their river, floods.
Our garden—their forest again. Our house
built on swamp pulls into itself.

Takes numbers to launch an invasion.
Numbers they have. Now they want
their land back, they want everything back…


Potomac Review, vol. 2, issue 2,  2001; Pudding 41, December 2001; The Spirit of the Walrus, Bright Hill Press, 2006, © Elisavietta Ritchie; Awaiting Permission to Land, Cherry Grove Collections, 2006, © Elisavietta Ritchie; Best of Potomac Review, Fall 2011.