In 1985, while pursuing a business degree, I unhappily landed in a creative writing class and announced to the group that I thought Walt Whitman was a chain of schools throughout the United States. To my astonishment, I had found my pacing, abandoned prose, and started a poetry circle that has been meeting for 16 years. I have published four poetry collections, most recently: “The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities” Kelsay Books and “Wonder” Little Lantern Press (out of Wales). https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Laurie+Byro I am the Poet in Residence at the West Milford Township Library and despite it all, love New Jersey, and have lived here almost 60 years.
The opossum waddled into our living room
like an old deacon of a church. She looked up
at our cathedral ceiling as if expecting
to see the North Star. It was Christmas.
We were in the middle of a fight. I scraped
our dinner plates, crusts of bread clung
to congealing gravy. I felt my ovaries harden.
I told my husband I wasn’t ready to give him
up and I rattled the silver bracelet
with the ten commandments for emphasis.
I was thinking of the opossum’s hands.
They were the only graceful thing about her,
almost human. She pushed open our front
door to come in, closed it when she left.
Our voices, barely interrupted by this visitor,
rose to a crescendo and I warned him never
to feed her as he had done the raccoon. It's a sin
to feed a wild animal who needs to learn to forage.
That winter the snow fell like stars and I made
a wreath from our woods. Brown acorns became
the nipples of a man I loved, blue jay feathers
the dark mystery of my lover’s eyes.
Our house creaked and drifted with snow.
We survived the cold winter. When I readied
our garden in spring, my rake hit a chunk
of what I thought was dirty snow: an opossum
with a swollen body, engorged from the babies
she had nursed, her hands frozen palm
to palm, almost as if in prayer.
© 2018 Laurie Byro
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