Poetry


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009


Tasha’s Possum
Heather Altfeld

The thick rope of possum-tail is curled
around the pink shank of a ham-bone,
stuck butt-up in the trash can
just outside the cat door;
the possum’s lips spread wide
across the flowered cloves,
smacking the sweet rum and orange
porkness, sucking on the little commas of fat
in the late March night.
His eyes blink in drunken, comatose guilt
as I pour another round of port
and watch him, embarrassed and swaggering,
tip the trash can further for another chew.
O sleepless thing,

only other creature left alive, I’ve found you,
o fellow homely nocturnal citizen,
come in from that pail,
wipe your little porcine toes
and have a proper meal with me,
the kind my daughters fix for their dollies, scones and cream,
tuffets and cucumber, tea from pretend England,
all remnants of endless drawings by Tasha Tudor,
volumes of paintings and gardens
that litter my home and enrapture my children,
who fancy themselves

sugaring in knitted caps,
eating Washington pie and hot cross buns,
floating birthday cakes with boiled icings
down May cricks,
dressed in crowns of violets, robes of lilac,
silken scents penciled in minute bouquets to their hands.

They’re asleep as I stand here,
toasting to pork with a marsupial,
dreaming of their other mother,
an apron-droned thing
baking sweet clay apples
and collecting firewood,
ringing a sweet little bell come supper.
This mother does not stand awake
in her kitchen, swigging wine from the bottle,
text-messaging pornographic verse
to boys she meets at bars, she is not
sharing her tea at this little hour
with a slick-mouthed marsupial,
or searching a trashcan
for the paunchy hope
of companionship in the weak kitchen light.


*****

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