Friday, July 14, 2006

"Opossum" by Keith Harvey


Sniffing strawberries,
she trips a sensor
and two halogen beams
bathe her in light,
blinding her.
She tiptoes,
helpless and exposed,
sniffing her way,
across Mexican tile,
searching for an escape
from this unbearable clarity,
this day for night
on a suburban stage.
She smells the strawberries
and lingers in her desire.
She knows the way back:
across the grass,
up the gingko tree,
scratching its tender bark
with her claws,
a run along a gnarled limb,
traversing the fence,
a jump to the live oak,
a descent to the alley,
a sprint to the drainage ditch
that passes beneath the freeway,
and finally an escape into the woods.
However, the smell of the berries
traps her within the light
that reveals her vanity:
her hairless tail,
her blanched fur,
infested with lice,
her sensitive snout,
and her weak, moist eyes.
Like a diver,
she hesitates
before her jump.
But the light hurts,
so she flees
and as she does
the light fades
but she lacks courage
to return.

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