Great Aunt June Saves the World

by Michael Bove

On the banks of the Susquehanna they lived
in a shack. Frost between wood slats, a paltry
wall between winter and themselves: children
with absent parents, still in short pants in January.
No money for wool, they watched men set traps
on the ice and at sundown, curled by the stove.
She wiped her brother’s tears and took his hand.
This is how we do it, she thought, and brought him
onto the river with screwdrivers to spring the furry
captives, their eyes glinting thanks in twilight.
Great Aunt June saved the world one beaver at a time.
This she celebrates with family and breadsticks
eightyfive years later in the Olive Garden after
her brother’s funeral, a eulogy she couldn’t hear
as she remembered his tears and saw a Chickadee
dip like river water from one spruce to another.