Thursday, November 10, 2016

Until We Make It

Until We Make It

The opossum’s body curled 
like a tired fist while our 
great horse of a puppy
hovered, 
barking, 
whining,
confused paws splayed in
vain hope of play with the
sad sack of fur.

We called him inside with
whistles and treats, then
watched from the window
still, silent
just like our new friend,
heads bent together.

My husband’s voice cut
through the darkness.

“You won’t see anything.
He won’t move for a while.”

We turned and shushed
him, glancing at each other
and rolling hazel eyes like
synchronized swimmers,
my youngest son and I. We
turned back toward the yard.
“You’ll see,” I whispered,
more to myself than to
any man in the house.

Ten yards away our old,
black dog kept watch over
her land, over this opossum.
Resting in a pile of leaves,
she looked away from us
and gazed toward the trees,
blinking into the chirps of
crickets, as if to give the poor
creature the privacy it needed
to come back to life.

Suddenly, earlier than promised, 
a twitch. The opossum’s tail 
sprang forward like a Chinese 
yo-yo.We gasped and smiled, 
noses pressed against the old 
window screen, inhaling rusty 
aluminum and the bewitching 
warmth of an October night.

“It’s okay, little guy,” my son
whispered to the creature. 
“You’re safe now.”

Slowly, the opossum began to
soften from the grip of its fear.
Its legs stretched as if to greet
a new day. Its little face
turned and raised as though
waking, dazed, from a long nap.

“He’s so little,” said my son.
“He’s so young,” I replied.

Staggering to its feet beside the
azaleas, the little critter gently 
shook its head, peered into 
the darkness and paused.
Then, unfazed, it toddled toward
the fence and into the night. 
Close by, our old girl sighed 
and settled her grey muzzle 
between muddy paws.