We don’t have groundhogs, beavers or badgers, but we do have feral hogs. They tear up our levee system, rooting around. Piglets pour out of them in 114 days. They eat meat. They eat their young. Word is that the mob uses them to make bodies disappear. Why can’t they be close to extinction, their lifeline snapped? Instead of cockaded woodpeckers; gopher tortoises; the shore birds, running out of coastline; or Louisiana black bears who give birth in their sleep, awakened from hibernating after 220 days by hungry babies.

When the batture floods, driving coyotes into the city, into our neighborhoods. Ring cameras catch them at night wandering like grainy zombies. Our dog, Ella, sleeps on her red cushion, but I hear her stir, her supernatural hearing picking up intruders. We regret having her spayed. She’d be a gentle and doting mom with good-natured pups.

 Some nights, raccoons emerge from City Park, marshaling their young across the wide street in front of our house. While Malcolm sleeps, Ella whisper-woofs. I cross my fingers they won’t be hit by a late-night driver. They’re headed to a garbage can, hoping for a loose lid, a midnight snack.

 In the morning, the lagoons fill with socializing ducks and an occasional swan. Their jibber-jabber sounds like rusty gates. The bottom-heavy geese stay on grass picking at bugs and nuts. I dodge them so they know I mean no harm. Some walkers carry sticks, but what can a hissing charging goose do to a human? Shame us? It’s their town.

I stopped after one child. Was it the abject fear of loving another child as fiercely? I have two stepsons and they have eight kids between them. Did I spay myself? Being a parent is terrifying. If I counted up all the close calls – the late periods, the pray-aways – I’d be mom to a baker’s dozen. We can’t lose what we don’t have.

“Urban Scape” http://ninatempleart.com/

16″ x 20″