Ode To An Old Raccoon


            She wobbled

            on unsteady feet

            from the thicket of spring wood

           trillium about to flower

            through fallen winter trees and once laden branches

            now covering the forest floor,

            toward the house

            on the ridge.

            When we woke

            she was sitting on the chestnut chair

            three feet from the door

            a ghostly visitor, eyes clouded

            head hanging low.

            There, then, she came

            quilled face to snarling snout

            before it dawned on us

           a wild animal

            at first glance, a porcupine

            was up on that chair

            as if perfectly natural

            she should be there

           softly rocking, head swaying,

            in her forlorn four-pawed anguish –

            awaiting her fate.


            Many hours later

            the raccoon lay in constraint

            anesthetic numbing her ache

            after the removal of seventy-five quills

            from tender tissues of tongue

            and inquisitive face.

            When we finally released her into the moonless night

            she had awakened enough from the sedative

            to pull towel off cage

            and begin to gnaw and claw

            at her enclosure with teeth that bite through bone,

            forefeet bearish and flat-footed,

            dexterous long fingers,

            and the sharpness of mind

            that can untie knots,

open doors,

            and release latches.


            I do not know when

          at last she wandered

            away into the night,

            for after free, she circled for hours

            round and round like the hawk she was not.

            Eventually I could no longer watch

           her slow coming

            past the blackberry bushes, lilacs and daffodils,

            ambling over the tender crocuses

            swinging in her gaited way by the rhododendron

            under the black walnut and yellow birch

            by the two vehicles in the drive, the wood pile, the mint patch

           the porch where her empty metal enclosure still sat,

            so afraid I was for her.

            Unsure if my attending was causing

            her erratic behavior

            I shut the light.


            My spirit leaps at the still empty chair, when

            every morning now

           passing by I stare,

            half expecting to see the coon sitting there,

            head hanging low, small body swaying,

            the telltale sign of

            quills embedded every which way. But

            No longer really awaiting

            the aging brown-toothed female coon,

            I anticipate the feathered or furry face

            of a red fox, longtail weasel, bobcat,

            beaver having dragged herself up from the pond below,

           a ruffed grouse, barred owl, marsh hawk

            a little brown bat sitting there on that chair

            or even a bear


       © Susan Lynn Gesmer, Ode To An Old Raccoon, 2011

One thought on “Ode To An Old Raccoon

  1. staziaw says:

    I have an old possum living under my apartment building … the little beastie is actually a sweetheart, going on her midnight rambles!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s