At the mouth of West Newport Trail,
autumn dropping the clouds into thawed mud, I stepped
into ruins of my friend’s garage, the unwanted other
had marginally hedged self in for a season of subsethood.
Raccoon footpads had taken over, marked their zone of living—
piss collapsing fragments into frescos on the ceiling below.
Not long before occupation, his grandmother, Florence,
slipped to the other side, white-haired, brandishing
her walking cane like an enchanted oak cudgel, aspirant to
the Cedars of Lebanon grove near their sect of house.
She prophesied destruction, the passing of recessive acres
into algae infested gene pools. Sheban Drive, that park road
still bears their family name and cars go by at light-speed,
forcing power walkers deeper into the burrow of statistics
for safety, balancing the threat of stranger
against rushing neighbors. This overlap is not at all
fuzzy, continuous. I found a dead raccoon, two days ago,
likely crawled into deco garage, deconstructed across the street
from their ransacked mailbox, hinges of the jaw
dropped open, showing blackened teeth and gums. A trail of
white fur, wet to cardboard, made a sort of cubbyhole.
Many scars were still visible around its scruff-boned neck,
and an eye-level brow curled, ringed white knots, arched pupil
toward something familiar, almost home. I have heard albinos
are sacred among most species, regarded as elders, Wise Ones.
Every time I enter through his wrapped archway, enfeeblement
overwhelms me, an unbegrudging spirit of place, and in that
undeniable shuffle and creak, that chain lightening of feet
across floorboards, his grandmother’s words still echo,
This isn’t a playground. Stop horsing around up there.
—from Rattle #20, Winter 2003