Sometime past midnight, walking through shadows
along side streets — a dark shape beside the curb.
Definitely not catlike. Up close, you say possum.
Black eyes glint back, but she doesn’t move.
not even a twitch of the prehensile tail. Playing
possum? After the week’s tragedy — a colleague’s dog
struck by a truck — he didn’t even stop — I’m convinced
the possum, too, has fallen prey to some vehicle.
Note the dark patch along the belly. I don’t want
to leave her. It’s April. Maybe she’s carrying
babies. Maybe that’s why she’s so still.
Before bed, you drive back to find her nosing
the opposite curb, turning a slow circle. Shock?
There’s nothing to do for a possum. Still,
this morning, I circle back, my organs lifting
when I don’t find her — I’m certain she’s female.
I fight the desire to check the dumpster. Yes,
it’s hard to picture last night’s grizzled shape
curled in sleep beside me, though I like the idea
of a possum nesting in the hedge or beneath
the house. Last night, I dreamt a white bird,
unidentifiable but bigger than a hen, kept trying
to follow me home, though home, in the dream,
wasn’t West Texas. Someone else kept beating her
back. I felt each blow but kept moving.
And the white bird wouldn’t give up, no matter
that it was a long way, and that dark other
kept hurting her, though she didn’t cry out.
I knew the bird was part of me, but you said
the other person was me, too. Yes, I replied,
though I hadn’t realized it till then. Tonight,
I plan to tell you I want to go back
to the spot where the possum remained
gazing back at you, me, and our dog, remarkably aloof.
No, she wasn’t curious, and she didn’t seem
afraid, though we both could see her breathing.

Jaqueline Kolosov lives in West Texas, is an avid hiker, a yoga teacher, and one who would like to devote more time to languages and the visual arts. She is the author of young adult fiction and middle grade fiction as well as the author of several poetry books, including Modigliani’s Muse. See her very engaging blog at jacquelinekolosov.com.