Possum Kingdom

Poems By Lauren Boisvert

Lauren BoisvertLauren Boisvert is a senior creative writing major at the University of Central Florida. She has been previously published in print and online in Mochila Review, Young Writers Anthology, The Broken Plate, and YARN. One time she walked really close to David Sedaris and it’s her favorite story to tell at bars.

 

Possum Kingdom

There’s a possum on the highway
dead husk of cloud-gray fur
and I pull my car over on the shoulder.

The heat makes mirages
as cars kick up gravel when they pass.
The possum waits. She has nowhere to be.

I cross behind my hatchback.
Brake lights bathe me in muted red
as I make my way to her little round corpse.

She is her own funeral mound
painted red like me.

I didn’t plan to stop and I have no gloves,
no shovel to bury the dead. But
why should she be buried?
Who am I to hide her body?

If I leave her to the air
flowers will grow in her bones,
she will be food for worms and little bugs,
the carrion birds will feast until full.
If I bury her in the shrubby dirt
what does she become?

Only earth rot, just covered bones.

The possum is newly dead
black tire marks in fur and flesh
stink of blood and burnt rubber

like a car accident. The flies haven’t had a chance
to swarm like first responders.
Only me as witness and ambulance.

I hold my breath
against the stench of sun-warmed meat-rot
and dig my fingers in the possum’s little papoose.

I was ten years old at summer camp
the first time I held a possum, her pink bean toes
cold on my skin, fur soft and clean as a cat’s.

Always check for babies they told us.
They may still be alive in the mother’s pouch.

Now, kneeling in scrub grass
on the side of the highway, knuckle deep
in a possum’s belly,

I find only blood, fur, and empty skin.

 

The Armory

My body is a weapon encrusted with jewels,
ceremonial sword on reverent display.

But some days I’m a folded-steel dagger
cleansed with blood, warrior queen fingers
curled around my leather-wrapped hilt.

Some days I’m gunpowder, some days
gun, bullet gliding through my body like liquid fire
my metal burning outside and in.

I’m Sylvia’s electro-shock therapy
bee-buzz in the mind like the Devil’s rasp.
I’m a French Revolution guillotine
with a slick oiled slice. My blade rises and falls
like a breath.

I’m poison, silent killer, woman’s weapon.
Warhammer splitting a skull like soft bread.

My body will forever be an Atom bomb
cored with plutonium and aimed for innocents.
I did not plan this, nose diving toward destruction.
I am a destroyer of nations, and where is the man
who made me this way?

If he’s lucky, when I detonate,
he will be among the dead.

 

The Pagans Shall Inherit My Earth

Build a Viking pyre
for my pink-ribbon innocence,
burn me to the ground,
blacken my bones for ritual.
I am not a lamb, I am an eruption:

Odin’s ravens answer to me.

Where is the black bird
when I need to think?
Give me thoughts like little seeds.
Let me imagine
I am loved by sunlight
I am too often taken
by terrible darkness.

Where is the white bird
when I must remember?
Fly to me like snow flurries
and bring me memories
of gentle boy-hands on my knee
blue eyes like rock candy in a smudged face

then take the memories away like pollen,
shake them from the legs of bees
to scatter in the sacred woods.

Bad memories grow poisonous:
hemlock, bloodroot, digitalis.
Bright-petaled and beautiful, hidden
in the mind like snakes.

Good memories are pleading
forget-me-nots
blue as dead flesh,
perfect circle center
like a wound.

Where is my Ragnarök?
My end of days?

I draw our twilight over us
like a sheer scarf embroidered with little stars.

Sköll the wolf
will swallow the moon,
Hati his brother
will swallow the sun,

and I
will swallow my pills
and my memories
until there’s nothing left
but smoking bones.

 

Internal/External Planetarium

The moles on my body
make me into a galaxy.
Scoop stars from my shoulders
like sugar granules and let them
fall the length of my spine.
I want to be tasted, what is my
skin made out of, let me kiss
the essence of me from your
black hole mouth.

You are small compared to
rocks and mountains but what am I
set against the whirling borealis
of the heavens? What constellation
does my waistline make?

I am sun and moon
and all things that came before.

Sprawled naked in bed your knees
bracket my asteroid hips and my sigh
is the ancient collision that built
the earth. I am queen with a million
long-dead stars on my cheeks.
Align them with the planets,
you will see my crown.

 

Grayl’s Hotel

When I was young my father
lived in a downtown apartment:

yellow cornmeal stucco, faux velvet stair-runner
matador red. I would wake every other weekend
to a cacophony of restaurant clatter
under the open living room window:

clink of ceramic plates, singing of glassware,
blurt of car horns like angry geese, the gentle madness
of early morning. Art nouveau classic spelled out
in the bathroom tiles, gem of Central Avenue.

I hated to leave, but

with my mother I heard birds:
mourning doves, whippoorwills in the orange tree.
Plop of grapefruits as they fell in the yard.
I remember the squelch of wet cement
between my fingers as I left my mark
on what I thought at the time would always be mine.

Living alone I hear nothing worth cherishing.
Only occasional sirens, silent flight of bats,
heavy footsteps of upstairs neighbors.

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