Poem: Among the Most Primitive of Mammals

in Featured/Poetry/Stories and Poems

Among the Most Primitive of Mammals

by B.J. Wilson

Sometimes I see a possum
in the alley at night
when I take out the trash.
Perhaps it’s the same one
that lumbers down the gangway
when I walk after dark.
Tonight, under streetlights
some rare forsythia petals blend
within their green leaves,
and a few March flowers surprise me
from the concrete, promising iris
down a city block
where they will never grow.
Where a white tweaker in a do-rag
on the last night
of a July 4th weekend
swerves to the wrong side
of the street where I stand,
cutting his headlights, opening his door.
Then I am nude: poised with a stone
the size of a softball,
which I brandish
as if it were a stick an unleashed
country dog, wolf in its face,
would respect.
I’ll murder you, motherfucker,
he says, as he speeds away,
in need of a taillight and a muffler.
And I wonder,
having come back around the block again,
if the possum
has just feigned death, how they
shut themselves down.
But now I can see only blood blooms:
a real froth in its split mouth,
not the kind they emanate
for pretend, like the droppings
they’ll excrete
to dissuade old predators
that they no longer have to fear.
We too shat ourselves
before we had garments to soil,
before fire. Way back
in the caves with our nightmares
of leopards. No, this one won’t twitch
its ears on the way
back to waking, a black pool
around its head like a halo.

B.J. Wilson is from Louisville, Kentucky. He holds an MFA from the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University, a writing fellowship from The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and a Pushcart Prize Nomination for poetry. His poems appear in Exit 7, Gravel, New Madrid, Tar River Poetry, Valley Voices and elsewhere. His first chapbook of poems, Tuckasee, which explores his time in the bottomlands of Western Kentucky and Western Tennessee, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

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