Being Dads

Day after day after day after day after day
Cars shot by the deceased mammal by the
Side of the road by the woods until finally
Even I, casually disrespectful of the dead,
Stopped to edge it out of sight. A postman
Stopped also. He thought maybe I needed
Help. I explained that our deceased friend
Here had been left unattended, and maybe
He or she should be escorted to the woods
Or at least out of sight; that seemed proper
After several days of public viewing, and I
Felt ashamed that I had zoomed past every
Morning, so… We stared at the dry corpse.
Porcupine, said the postman. A young one,
Probably his first big adventure away from
Mom and dad. Imagine his parents waiting
All night for him and then all the next day,
And then beginning to realize he’s not ever
Coming home. I got kids, said the postman.
You got kids? I got kids, I said. I know the
Feeling of waiting all night. Me too, friend,
He said, and he went back to his truck, and
Got a snow shovel, and escorted the former
Porcupine child into the woods. Then there
Was the oddest sweetest moment; we stood
By his truck and just stared up into the trees.
Maybe we were looking for the parents. It’s
Hard to say quite what that was. Being dads,
I guess. Or prayers. We shook hands and left.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, and the author, most recently, of a novella, Cat’s Foot. Image courtesy of Theo La Photo.