We find the dead possum beneath
our breakfast spot on the front porch,
that same spot we call “ours” and still
eat at, each morning, separately. We
find it there and then
find a way to make it about Us.
Its tongue is un-muscled,
dangling from its dry mouth, with no
tendon, no rope, to keep that flesh pink,
that pretty color, in a world with no decay.
A mouth with no life. And though we are not
honest to ourselves,
the stench only becomes sacred
when we give it our name. The
snakes coiled up sleeping in our
throats rattle and unhinge, blooming.
We cannot make ourselves
peel it off the porch, its once-body gone
to ribbons of what was once called a body.
What leaks from the matted toughness
of skin, now collapsing in tufts, is
last night’s conversation or
last night’s bedroom.
Fact: possums smell like the dead
even when they are still alive.
Fact: this defense was carefully
Fact: possums play dead so well
sometimes their bodies
believe them, too.
The course-skinned corpse smiles,
its teeth: shells so far beneath the surface
it is almost calm as they tell you
that you cannot swim back up in time.
That your lungs are already empty of air.
Its mouth makes hilarity of reminding
us it is dying
until we cannot take
the stench anymore.
Fact: I cannot take the stench anymore.
you bring the body into our bed
and say you love it.
But I wake up
every morning to find it
folded up, too small. Folded like
‘take this shit back’
in the throat of our closet.
We keep it, like this:
in this home
we have decided
— “In the Last Months, When We Still Call it Love” by Emma Bleker