A kind of thrill—to lie on a road
and flatten yourself,
white fur like a ball of winter,
like the March blossoms on the fruit trees,
each one folded in like
the fledgling that never made it
from the nest.
They do this when they feel threatened,
even when curious people come prod
them with sticks,
stiffening their pearly claws as a tree stiffens
its twigs for winter. What is it to be dead?
The possums know—that eternal watchfulness
by which the dead in their stately wisdom
who keep moving.
Copyright © 2017 by Sheila Black. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 7, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.