Construction Literary Magazine

January 2017 Writers Respond

Raccoon

Raccoon
Photograph via Flickr by Robert Engberg


The raccoon was wily as a founding father
and just as impossible to catch by the eye, or convince

from the wall and the cage that was meant to catch him
was pitiless as a founding father.

But it never worked right, like us,
since being as desperate as a founding father
will drive anyone to survive on fraud.

For instance: we were paid under the table,
or misrepresented where we lived or were born
in order to guard our children.

Sometimes, we mistook a person’s heart with their sense of effort:
I’ve lost another tooth, for instance, but my Spirit
is not broken. Or, now
her marriage is threatened, but she and her wife remain
working at the conveyor, in good Spirits.
This was another lie we told. Souls aren’t born by labor,

and like founding fathers, they aren’t bound or likely
to haul this country’s chains. The thing about raccoons, about ghosts,

or founding fathers: they see what they find fit and somehow it is taken
from under us. They never let go,

which we did,
when we finally acknowledged what lived back behind the narrow walls,

and we carried what fit in our arms
from an apartment that had not been built for us,
seemed impotent to change,
and was determined by an old animal not to be our home.

It’s a hopeless defense. I know. I wish we were young.
You taught my tongue the word perennial. I’m saying now we stay.