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,
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
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.