I know the possum’s out in the dark on my side yard
or my backyard. I sat there in the living room
reading some poems, and then I tried to write a poem.
It was a poem about seeing him when I went out
into the dark yard, to turn off the hose I had dribbling
into a plastic tray in the back yard for the birds.
I had to turn it off because it was supposed to freeze.
I would have never seen him
if it weren’t for a change in the weather, but each night
for four nights in a row, I went out, and each night
we met face-to-face, and each night the possum startled at me
like a character in a cartoon, then turned and scuttled away into the bushes.
Last night I thought about that possum, out there in the yard
looking for grubs, or little bugs, or bark and leaves to eat.
I think that it must be looking for food, or love, because what else is there
for a possum except shelter, which it must have
or it wouldn’t be out there in my yard each night.
I lie down and think about the possum.
Is the possum happy? Can a possum be happy
or sad, or contented, frustrated or enraged?
Some of these mental states, most certainly—frustrated
if it’s trying to get at some food it can’t reach, enraged
maybe if its dwelling place is compromised. Content, probably
to sit in the dark or mess around and look for grubs or worms.
Happy or sad? If its litter gets killed, or its mate?
Tomorrow, after I lie here in this bed and have my quota
of nightmares, I’ll get up and go to my desk at my job
which is, essentially, looking for grubs and worms,
then I’ll return to my mate at our dwelling place.
I’ll do this several thousand times more until I come around
some corner, meet someone, or something, face-to-face
the one time I won’t be able to run away.
I hope it’s possum Jesus, coming home.
GREG KOSMICKI is a poet and social worker living in Omaha, Nebraska. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied under the poet Greg Kuzma. He founded The Backwaters Press in 1997, which he now serves as Editor Emeritus. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines since 1975, both print and online, including Briar Cliff Review, Chiron Review, Cimarron Review, Connecticut Review, Cortland Review, Dacotah Territory, New Letters, Nimrod, Paris Review, Poetry East, Rattle, Smoking Poet, Paddlefish, and Windless Orchard. His poems have been anthologized many times, most recently in 2015 in A Sandhills Reader: Thirty years of great writing from the Great Plains, Stephen F. Austin State University Press. He received artist’s fellowships for his poetry from the Nebraska Arts Council 2000 and 2006. He is the author of four books and 8 chapbooks of poems. Two of the poems from his book from Word Press, Some Hero of the Past, and one poem from his chapbook from Pudding House Publications, New Route in the Dream, have been selected by Garrison Keillor and read by him on The Writer’s Almanac on Minnesota Public Radio. He has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. His newest book, Sheep can Recognize Individual Human Faces, was published in June of 2014 by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. A new collection, It’s as Good Here as it gets Anywhere, is due out from Wayne State College (WSC) Press under the Logan House imprint, in spring of 2016. He and Debbie, his wife of 42 years, are the parents of three children, grandparents of one.