THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
by Juanita Rey
The dead raccoon makes me sad.
To you, it is merely disgusting.
No, the flies, the crows,
or anything else that wants at the corpse
do not bother me.
That’s how the natural world works.
Sure, there’s sorrow in those stiff bandit eyes
but nothing grotesque.
Unless, of course, you factor in
the speeding car that knocked this poor creature
into the gutter.
But, then again,
you shudder at the sight of a tampon,
at the thought of the cycles
a woman’s body goes through.
And there was that film
of a mother giving birth.
Nothing was really shown
but even that nothing was too much for you.
We’re all flesh and blood.
There’s no getting away from it.
And flesh is not always pristine.
And there are times when blood
doesn’t stick to its veins and its arteries.
No, the dead raccoon is not beautiful.
But it fills me with awe.
Here’s four years or more
of foraging, scurrying,
defending, fleeing, mating.
And here’s the machinery
that accomplished that.
No reason for me to ever turn away.
Not while life is such a messy but powerful instinct.
And death says more than it bargained for.
* * * * *
Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Opiate Journal, Petrichor Machine and Porter Gulch Review.