by Ann E. Michael

Opossum by the road last night,
eyes near the ground. I saw the bald
and pointed legs, owlish face,
shiver in my headlights, move on–
wise beast, sluggish with cold.

Sumac goes red, stalks pithy and tall.
Ash starts to yellow. Geese visit the pond.
I am ready for the soft descent
into a seasonal sleep, but you rebel,
you tell me: Get your slippers.
Put on a sweater. Make tea.

Steam clouds the kitchen window
where crickets are quieter now,
where our candles are two blurred,
yellow eyes peering from
the arbor vitae bush
like a possum climbing up
to seek the last warmth.

I will put on my slippers.
I’ll watch my breath
for the first time in months,
recalling every word you’ve said
written in condensation.
I could tell you how intensely I feel
the cold in tonight’s dark shelter–

despite your ardent admonitions,
I slow myself, burrow
among the leaves;
I shun the road.


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