ENCOUNTERS WITH MRS. RACCOON - Robert Stanley Weir Poems


Poems » robert stanley weir » encounters with mrs. raccoon



Once I spotted her up on our roof
and brought in the news, I should have known
my wife would want to see for herself
without wasting any more time talking,
so I watched as she gingerly climbed
ten rungs of our aluminum ladder
to where the porch roof started,
then peered intently through the rungs,

and, as she told me minutes later,
found those two deep brown saucers of eyes
set above the black button of a nose
staring back at her (from well underneath
the slanting house-roof's overhang)
with such an intensity it was no contest right away
for Mrs. Raccoon, and all my wife could do
was whisper a parting word or two,
climb down, as she said, feeling compassionate
even in her defeat.


Now as I remount the same ladder
before the day's darkness falls,
I rehearse one final time
my very well thought-out,
very practical, humane plan.
One: if she's not there I'll spread
the moth-balls I clutch in a package
all around the corner where she likes to lie,
then hope and pray she can't stand their lousy smell.
Two: if she's still in her corner, won't budge
when I poke my broom at her, I'll fetch the garden hose,
struggle with it up the ladder, turn it on
full force at the stubborn animal.

But when I reach the roof's edge,
peer over it as intently as my wife did
not four short hours ago, I see I've barged in
where I'm definitely not wanted at all --
because at least three baby raccoons
(much smaller saucers of eyes,
miniature black-button noses),
lie across her belly, sucking hungrily at what I imagine
are juicy, endlessly milk-flowing teats.

And the question comes immediately to mind
for which I haven't any answer --
what power do wild animals have
to melt our strong, hard human hearts
in the faintest stirring of an eyelid?
Whatever the answer
there's no living doubt
that a fresh, new-born surge of understanding
has swept all my hostility away.

Next I back down the ladder slowly,
shying openly away
from an encounter I never desired,
with a creature struggling here and now
much the same as all of us creatures do --
just trying to keep ourselves alive
in a world forcing more and more people
to leave the light, seek out the darkness,
where they steal, deceive, survive by cunning,
like the lady up on my roof,
our own Mother Courage, Mrs. Raccoon.