Virginia Opossum

 

The opossum is coming

 

And her sun is the moon

 

And God knows where she’d slept all day,

 

This shambling rat-tailed slum

Of cheap fur and a poor man’s stew—

 

Our chronic Lazarus

In her back-from-the-dead pallor;

 

But every night is opening night,

And she is always so gorgeously costumed

For the Shakespearean role of her own corpse.

 

 

The opossum has arrived

 

And what is noble in persistence

 

With her kits clinging to her fur

Like the Joads on their wavering jalopy,

 

This everlasting marsupial

On her proven diet of almost anything

 

Almost anywhere—

 

The natural is the sufferable—

 

Feasting on the roadkills until she joins them,

The onrushing headlights are so mesmerizing—

 

Though she is ever nostalgic

For a windfall of grubby fruit

And the welcoming arms of a tree.

 

 

The opossum is—

 

No longer with us.

 

The banner headlines of her sudden death

Are an understatement.

 

There she lay:

Breathless body limp,

Sloe eyes glazed,

Her filed teeth bared,

And that perfume, don’t tell me—Decomposition.

 

Et tu, Brute?

 

Mark Antony,

Where are you when we need you.

 

This truly born actor!—

She’s never even heard of death.

 

You almost expect her

To bear out the autopsy,

 

When after the bravos,

The falling curtain,

The emptied theater

 

She rises

 

Like that one-hit-wonder Jesus,

Like Rip van Winkle—

Where have I been since the Late Cretaceous?

 

It doesn’t matter—

 

The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse

Have galloped passed

 

 

And the opossum is on her away,

 

On her grim tramp through this Anything-But-New World—

 

Her endurance run of twenty million years,

 

This ghost of Eras past

And Eras to come,

 

Bearing it all with that bloodless, many-toothed grin of her skull—

 

The last silent laugh will be hers.

 

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