{An Umbrella Special Feature}

Robin Chapman

is author of seven books, most recently the eelgrass meadow (Tebot Bach).

Recipient of the 2010 Appalachia Poetry Prize, she has recent work in Nimrod, Wilderness, and qarrtsiluni.

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Boxing Day in Banff, 2006

A good day, snow fresh
on the mountain peaks, a doe
and her young picking
their way down the streets
of Banff to lick the birdseed
out of the feeders
while sparrows and magpies
wait. This year no tsunami,
no new war, sixty orphaned
penguins saved in South Africa,
raised handfed, poured today
from cardboard cartons
into the sea. And in the labs,
a molecule found that will bind
mad-cow prions out of the blood
supply; on the farm, a UK dairy
recycles cowdung, digesting
methane enough to power
the farm. Gibbon songs
have been listened to long
enough to show they warn
each other of predators
and signal romance, and groupers
communicate with moray eels
with head bobs for joint
hunting forays. In the woods,
the young male mule deer
and elk meet, touch antlers,
walk on. This summer,
the cardinals at home
will dance to the Cajun fiddlers.