Dead Possum


Dead Possum

A rude surprise,
it lay like breakfast rejected
on the patio outside the dogs’ sleeping room.

The dogs were restless this morning,
barking for their kibble,
unwilling to follow the rules
that decreed paws known all too well
as lethal weapons needed to be contained,
the dogs in their open cages before I’d venture out to feed.
But some wildness recently sated
drove them to assault the door
and refuse repeated demands to
go to their beds.
They staged their impatient war dance,
telling with growls and claws
the tale of the hunt—
That won battle.

I lock them in their cages
and, order restored, I dish their meals
and free them to their feed.
I walk behind them to secure the sliding glass door,
gather dust pan and broom, plastic pail.
Their quarry too large to fit, let alone be lofted
by a dust pan, I grasp the tail and lower the possum
like a colossal tea bag for a dipping,
into the wash bucket,
walk the long path down to the lower wall,
heft it over into deep underbrush
of the vacant lot next door.

I own that land.
It has been the burial place
of sixteen generations of those possums
too slow for escape,
with teeth and claws insufficient for defense––
every one a battle won
by the dogs
and each one equally mourned––
their wild ferocity not enough
to best even dogs seemingly grown docile
until these night battles
gone unnoticed in my dreams
are brought to view in light of day.

The possum’s fur wet and matted but only slightly torn,
every time I hopefully delude myself
that perhaps it’s playing witness to its name
and only playing possum.
Optimistically, I don heavy gloves and winter coat,
ready for the struggle as I try to save
what an adult part of me knows
no longer is in need of saving.

Each corpse ironically made heavier by loss of life,
that dead weight of it
is echoed in a central part of me
as I try to lift with reverence
this newest evidence
that most of life
and all of death
is out of our control.

15 thoughts on “Dead Possum

  1. Marilyn Armstrong

    This is one of those time where all you can do is admit that dogs will be dogs and they WILL protect you from wild creatures. That’s their job. Our guys kill mostly rats and mice. Which is just fine with me. I don’t want any of them on the property, or more to the point, not near or in the house!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Yes.. the misbehaving part was the wildness it brought out in them afterwards and their aggressiveness in assaulting the door. We have rules, because I usually feed them in Crocs or bare feet and those thrusting claws can do great damage. Thus the rule that Morrie needs to enter his cage and Diego needs to stay outside or in his cage until I say Okay.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. slmret

    My Santa Barbara friend has had a skunk wandering back and forth near his house — close enough to wake the dead, but it’s illegal to trap them or to relocate them. They must simply be deposited in the underbrush on the slope behind, to wanter past again another night!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. lifelessons Post author

        FOUND IT. It was in a comment: When my husband died, the house filled with a skunk odor that remained for weeks. There were indeed skunks that had moved in under the house and it took several removals and weeks before they were all removed, but for years after, from time to time my room or car would fill with a skunk odor when there was no skunk outside, and this was in Mexico, 1500 miles away from where I lived when my husband died.


      2. slmret

        Oh, my goodness, how odd! There must be some sort of message in that story. The skunk odor is so terribly pervasive, filling the air for blocks away — but his skunk must have been walking by, perhaps from slope to slope in search of food, as there’s no sub-structure under the house, and the odor dissipates relatively quickly.


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