Greg Stidham

Leaf-Raking In Autumn

The calm that comes

with the pull of the rake,

the rhythm of the scrape

drawing leaves to feet,

and the arc of the tines

reaching through air again

to embrace another family

of brown, littered with reds

and yellows, the smell

of smoke from a neighbor's pile,

burning in the newly crisp October air.

The Possum

     after Ted Kooser

I read a poem today about an opossum

that touched me,

and reminded me of a possum

in the garage of my wife's house.

Like the possum in the poem,

she was pink. She looked at us, calm,

her pink tongue poised at her pointed lips,

her pink fingers raised as if in prayer.

She wasn't afraid, she didn't flee.

She didn't attack in a frenzy of sharp claws.

She sat and looked at us as though

awaiting a fate she could not know.

She let us guide her

into a screened cage box covered

with a blanket to keep it dark,

and keep her calm.

We fed her niblets of dogfood,

kept a water dish full until

next night, in the dark,

we moved the cage into the back yard,

and lifted the screen gate and waited,

while she waited to see

if we were serious about her freedom.

And the next morning, the cage was empty.


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