I was driving to town.
I rounded a curve and jammed the brakes.
There was a raccoon walking away
Right in the middle of the road.
I slowed down to the speed of her gait.
I had a good chance to look at her.
I determined she was a she
With a dark outer coat.
About twenty feet and she turned
To cross to the left side of the road.
And as she turned, she stopped for a second
And looked right at me
Before scurrying into the woods.
The way she looked haunted me
All the way into town.
It was a look of judgment.
It was a lucid look.
It was a look that made me ask the her-in-me,
Why are you glaring at me?
Didn’t I slow down for you?
It was the middle of the day.
When wild animals appear in broad daylight
We automatically think –
After-all, wouldn’t animals have to be crazy
To risk an encounter with a human being
In broad daylight?
But this raccoon was intensely self-possessed.
I saw it,
I saw her intelligence.
I saw judgment.
Later, I had to make another trip
Into town, having forgotten
Something on my list.
This time, as I rounded that curve
I was more attentive,
Even though I didn’t expect to see her again.
I was looking for something
And I found it.
There on the side of the road,
A dead raccoon.
It wasn’t her.
It was larger than her and its coat was lighter.
Such experiences make me wish
I could push the reset button,
Go back and start over.
And maybe that’s what I was trying to do
In repeating my drive to town.
I didn’t hit her mate (or her friend
Or whoever it was.)
But to her, we are all the same.
I don’t blame her for profiling me!
We’re all guilty
Of driving around the bend at 40 mph.
So who has rabies?
Who is the anomaly on this planet,
The dangerous crazy,
Thinking we own the world,
Foaming at the mouth,
Sipping our latte?