Monday, September 25, 2017

13 Ways of Looking at a Possum


for Andrew MacDonald

There’s a possum in my roof.
More importantly:
I’m scared of it. Helpoem?

(with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

Among twenty suburban houses
The only thing truly awake
Is the possum.  

I am in three minds
And all of them
Are afraid of the possum.

The possum whirled on the telegraph wire
It was a small part, but he made it his own.
His agent said it would lead to bigger things.

A man and a woman  
Are one thing.  
A man and a woman and a possum
Are quite another.
But a man and a man
Or a woman and a woman
Who want to get married
Should be equal in the eyes of the law.

I do not know which to prefer,  
Inflections or innuendos.
The possum’s guttural growl,  
Or just after.  
Well obviously, it’s better
After the possum shuts up.
Except then you lie awake, tense,
Waiting for it to start again.
Bloody possum.

The shadow of the possum
Is the shadow of casual hatred.
The possum despises you,
And everything you stand for.
Your human privilege.
The inheritance of shame
Is a burden and a gift. Atone.

O thin man of Elwood,  
Why do you imagine the possum?
The possum is the void.
It lives in your thoughts
and in her thoughts,
but it does not dwell in its own thoughts.

The possum involves itself  
In what you know
Even in the middle of the afternoon
In the midst of rational human activity,
The possum intrudes –
Its animal intuition,
Stuttering, scratching.
Scraping at the threshold
Of consciousness.

When the possum
Marked the edge  
Of one of many circles,
I was like WTF?
That’s really weird.
I’m not sure why the possum would do that.  

At the sight of possums
Flying in a green light,
It became clear
They were probably up to something.
He drives up the Nepean Highway.
He sees something on the road
And swerves.
But it’s not a possum.
Just the shadow of a possum.
He’s thinking of getting a Prius.

The river is moving
To the outer suburbs.
It’s heard about this place
Near the end of the Hurstbridge Line
That’s like Northcote in the country.
The possums are kind of being arseholes about it.
The river tries to ignore them
But deep down it thinks
Maybe it can’t hack it in the suburbs after all.

It was evening all afternoon.  
Who knows what the weather was doing
Or going to do.
The possum ran out of its hole
And said, there are many truths.
You dream a little
And feel the rising of the dark.