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Two Coons In the Road


Mimicking the racing moon

headlights freeing the striped road from darkness

turning corners like thoughts.

Two small Coons appear

on the sparkling center line:

One, stiff-legged, head down, arched,

willing me to halt. His companion

thrashing, broken-backed,

twisted to odd degrees with himself.

My wife, myself, the coons

Slapped senseless by a callous

hit and run.

My wife screams---

“Oh no, oh no, oh no, it’s too sad!”

We are helpless against empathic pain.

Without gun or stick or iron rod,

to end his hurt. I block

the lane with my car, spectators

of a ghastly ballet. Several cars

approach and pass, the struggles

his suffering earns-- a glance if that.

I dial the SPCA,

“I’ll come when I can” the switchboard voice

has pets to save.

“He’s dead,” my wife says

and he is still. We sigh together

and relax, but he writhes again

snapping at his ruined legs

like they were ravening dogs

Foam fleck and blood spray

I leave the car and squat

beside him, offer what comfort

I can. The flat gaze

of eyes, already dulled

is falling into his dying.

Honor guard and witness

are the best I can invent

steeling my heart to stay present

till he gasps his way

across the line dividing

this world from the next. Two days

before my 65th birthday--

moving his body off the road--

I cannot dodge the oncoming

leveling force that insists

we share the shadow of fate

all creatures, seeking comfort and solace

in the stares of passers by.


for Bodhi, my cat,

who died on the road this day, a year ago.