Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2016  Vol. 15 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Driving any country road at night, you’ll come
upon one—rabbit, possum, skunk, or raccoon—
run over again and again, a stretched shadow
flat as a footprint saying its only direction.

Because I have left behind me so many,
because I have memories of my own
small claws and brittle bone, this time
I paid attention to the breath
of impulse at my neck, I stopped
just this once, backed up the car and walked
in braked light to the small, tangled animal

recently struck and almost recognizable.
It draped like cloth in my hands, boneless,
wet with its life in a smell not yet of decay
but of shorted-out heat, electric.
I laid bloody splinters and fur in roadside brush,
then wiped my hands on ditch-weeds in the dark
where I couldn’t name anything.

Now the pavement held only a thick stain
to burn out in tomorrow’s noon.
I thought of my own veins’ branching,
the working of intricate connections,
the laying down of ways of return.

Then I got in the car and drove on,
travels unraveling behind me
in thickening darkness broken
by nothing for miles but a rising one-way moon.  

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