What We Made of Them by Robbi Nester

What We Made of Them

When my son was three or four, raccoons inhabited
the sewer outside our house. Every night, they’d
line up in the dark opening to the storm drain,
a neighborhood as populous as ours, eyes glowing
like stars gone nova. My son called them “psycorns.”
I don’t know where he got the word, but it suited them,
lurking as they did close to the dumpster, snarling
if we threatened to come near, choosing the delicacies
they most preferred from torn plastic garbage bags,
full of wilted heads of lettuce, flaccid carrots, spoiled
beef stew they extracted with their agile fingers.
My neighbor came home one day from the grocery
to find a raccoon and her kits standing in her kitchen.
They had entered through the dog door, foraged
in the pantry for the ten-pound bag of kibble,
ravaged the fruit bowl. She had to call a wildlife
specialist to remove the raccoon family
from the house before they shredded the sofa,
filled the place with fleas. How far these urban-dwelling
raccoons were from the meticulous and clever creatures
I had seen on nature films, with pointed, elven faces,
washing up before they ate. Orchards and woods
are mostly gone now. Sewers serve as raccoon
freeways, shortcuts to the closest park or vacant lot.


Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry and editor of three anthologies. She is a retired college educator and elected member of the Academy of American Poets. Her website is at http://www.RobbiNester.net

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