On my way to water the strawberries
at dusk—I gardened in those days—
I saw a raccoon clasping the outdoor spigot
like a sailor’s wheel, using both paws,
that seemed more and more like hands
as it kept twisting until water gushed
out of the copper nozzle and it drank.
I hadn’t thought of it in years, not even
after I saw another raccoon, high-stepping
the coyote fence midday with a limp vole
overhanging its mouth. Such a singular sight,
I had to tell you, and blurted it out as soon
as I saw you, a piece of domestic gossip
like the first crocus or noisy neighbors:
common property, like so much in marriage—
a small business, a friend called it, down to
the cooked books. Only later, after I recognized
the raccoon sauntering through a line
in one of your poems…only after the pressure
cooker of my displeasure caused you to recast
your raccoon and vole as skunk and mole,
did I flash on the one I’d seen decades before:
its lack of furtiveness, the air it had
of being within its rights, the way it took its time
to retrace its steps to turn the water off.
—Or did it amble on and let the water run?
No copyright protects idle talk, you might have said,
or, The imaginarium of marriage knows no bounds.
December 6, 2018
Saboteur in Chief
That Formal Feeling