Three weeks now I’ve watched
that raccoon rotting on the shoulder,
first on her belly, chin down
on the asphalt, as if she liked
to watch the wheels whip by
so fast they seemed like spinning backward,
then on her side, stiff
so the symmetry of nipples,
hard and dark in the light,
stood out to taunt the cubs
who may have watched at night
from grass grown long along the graveyard.
Now she’s brown, a matted mass,
little different, save to those distracted,
from the bits of old blowouts
or mud clumps caked in recent rain.
Soon she’ll drip and dry away,
likely as this to be remembered.
It’s hot now. The highway’s hotter,
and the wheels suck slowly at the asphalt,
nothing touched or naked more than moments
while the air conditioned cabs float past
in the endless requiem
of black rock blazing life.
It’s often in some ill-lit hide,
the space beneath the sink
or just between the bookshelves,
a copper wing clanging at my eyes
from shadow a shoe can’t reach
without some gross contortion or timidity
that lets the thing escape
to leave me staring at the sole.
Then at last it comes into the clear,
the stove’s glow amber on the ground,
stilted as if disdaining dirty floors.
The shod hand swings
just hard enough to kill,
more forceful here than fission,
leaving me to pluck and flush
the jelly of hard joints
and sanitize the spot,
leaving me feeling all week,
when my sneaker slightly sticks,
as if I’ve missed something.
Daniel Fitzpatrick grew up in New Orleans, studied philosophy at the University of Dallas, and now lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with his wife and daughter. He has recently assembled a poetry manuscript, All the Race of Beauty, and is finishing his first novel, Only the Lover Sings.contact