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Possum

And if I made a bad meal, if leftovers,

my husband bent to scrape them into the bowl,

summoning our hound for the favor

of her indiscriminate desire,

his brows scowling together, yes, I’d open the back door

into the garage just to let the rancor out, the dog

stood in for me, her mad panicked barking.

I was pregnant, thick with it, thought to

become a woman finally, not that stick,

that boy I’d always been—instead,

a heavy figure forever wrong at dinner.

He didn’t want to be a father.

And yes, I witnessed the improbable nest

a stranger’s long labor, boogie board gnawed

to snowdrops lining the far corner.

We came face to face—rich silver of her ruff,

long pink tail sprouting wiry hairs like a woman’s bristled chin,

a quick palsy ran through her shoulders—discovered

the possum must have known it then—her ruin.

She met my gaze, lifting her plush and fragile nose.

Against my belly wall three rivers fed the blue placenta,

little matter moored by cable coiled in that water.

She stood her ground, lips drawn back,

teeth bared. Don’t tell me what love endures

or need requires, don’t tell me animals can’t make

mortal calculation. I knew she was carrying too,

building bits of flesh that fall into the world,

thirteen teats for a litter of two dozen

infants the size of honey bees scrabbling for the pouch,

and if half of what we sow is strewn on barren ground—

scorched, choked, devoured by birds—still,

all must be borne.

from Antidote for NightFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Marsha de la O Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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