Prairie Dog

by Tricia Orr

In your red clay chamber,
you lift your velvet pincushion
of an ear – what do you hear?

Biologists have recorded you.
If I wear blue
your alarm call will be different
than the day I wore yellow.

Dolphin and chimpanzee
have nothing on you.

The sentinel of your colony
in yips of varying length and pitch
dutifully reports coyote or dog,
vulture or crow.

I hope you know the difference
in tone and intent behind
black oil sunflower seeds
and lead bullets.

But perhaps it’s best you don’t
understand us or our words.

Suspect us all. Even those
of us who bring you Timothy hay
and parsley to the intersection
of Cerrillos and St. Francis.


Tricia Orr is a practitioner of community herbalism living in Northeast Ohio. She has taught ESL at the community college level and more recently in a refugee resettlement program.Her poetry and stories have been published in Belt Magazine, The Vignette Review, Pedestal Magazine, Rust+Moth, among others. After 13 years in New Hampshire, she recently returned to her Rust Belt roots, Cleveland, Ohio.