The Possum by Ed Shacklee

The Possum



A light I stop for paints the asphalt red
and shows a possum isn’t playing dead;
a bump upon a country road, a white
and grayish remonstration of the night.

Feasting on the cricket and the tick,
unprepared and neither fierce nor quick,
a fuddy duddy relic, now run over,
who muddled through the thickets and the clover;

who had a dozen children in the spring
but now’s a flattened, matted, bloody thing
the vultures will descend on in the day,
and, like myself, has little else to say,

for sorrow like the headlights of a car
illumines for a moment what we are
till night returns and mathematics yields
half a dozen possums in the fields.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: It is always difficult to write a poem about roadkill—there is the grim subject matter, and the inevitable comparison to Stafford’s poem. However, this poem’s formal meter frames the situation within a philosophical context, without losing the emotional resonance of the experience.