Friday, July 17, 2009

Road Kill

I cry for the dead squirrel

Who looks like he has fallen from the sky

Face down in the road.

Is he the one who ate acorns

watching me as I drank my coffee?

Now two days dead

No longer so much squirrel

As a smear on the asphalt,

I see him turn inside out

from those who feast on flesh

each taking his own turn –

flies, beetles, birds.

Car tires flatten what little remains

and by this evening I can barely

tell the squirrel from stains.

I feel guilty, I want

to bury him, save him

From the indignity of cars.

His limp body in my shoe box.

A grave in the garden bed near

the cats’ graves. But I don’t.

Instead I gingerly step over him,

around him. Park the van

a few feet farther up the block.

Afraid of what my husband will say,

what the neighbors will think

of my attachment

to a city rodent, a common pest,

I ignore my son’s young voice

who once insisted we bury every dead bird,

every squirrel, with love and ritual

because we are guardians of all we see.

I side-step that responsibility.

Instead I commemorate this moment.

The grave I should have dug,

The life I could not save.

The grey squirrel, soon forgotten,

already replaced, who I wish

I could ask to forgive me.

November 2008

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