Barbara Louise Ungar

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 I Am Accused of Not Killing Woodchucks

by the cat lady next door, who thinks I
called Animal Control, so they caught
and put down her feral darling, Joe.

She says the woodchuck under my shed
has distemper, the dead opossums
last winter had herpes

and spread conjunctivitis. She’sArtwork by Gene McCormick
crazy, I love cats and
no woodchuck’s bothered me.

Izaak picks the first ripe strawberry.
I head out with a colander—
the woodchuck lopes away

like a drunken quarterback, startling
for one so fat. Not a berry left.
Have-a-Heart fails:

the woodchuck is trap-wise.
Friends suggest coyote urine.
Why shut the barn door now?

Raspberries grow ripe. Too high
for the woodchuck, or too
prickly? We’ve had blackberries

from the wild neighbors’ yard,
nine home-schooled kids
and counting—they’ll take as many

as God gives ’em. Woodchucks.
Today at the lake, wild strawberries,
sweet and sharp as Bergman.


Barbara Louise Ungar’s books are Thrift; The Origin of the Milky Way; and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life. She lives in Saratoga Springs and teaches writing and literature at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, but hopes that won’t be held against her.