I'm not a killer. Those of you who know me understand that I would go to great lengths not to take a life. But there are exceptions to everything and two of those exceptions are possums and skunks. When you have cats on a farm and you feed those cats, the feeding places become critter magnets. I'm guessing that Purina Cat Chow is the caviar of the o'possum world and a skunk (or a raccoon) isn't going to be any pickier than a possum around fine dining. I've been somewhat successful in ridding the farm of these poor, unfortunate souls over the past few years. I always say it's not their fault as to what body they were born into and that they are simply being what they are. At that level, it makes it pretty tough for me to take their lives, but I can rationalize in my knowledge that any of them could do serious bodily harm to the cats, and, in the past, that has happened. Sometimes the course that Nature takes is the course that we personally facilitate.
That leads me to this morning. I've been stalking a particularly large o'possum for the past couple or three weeks. He's huge, and, up close, very menacing. Eyes like malevolent black pearls and teeth like hacksaw blades. And possibly the ugliest tail God ever put on a living creature, though I did see much more than I wanted to of a pretty good challenger in Walmart this past weekend.
Mr. Possum and I have come face to face several times and he's managed to scoot under the nearest barn wall or quick-waddle into the woods before I could get my gun. When I'm armed, he's had the most amazing luck. Two incidences of my rifle jamming and one incident of not knowing there were no bullets in the magazine. And at least three separate shots that were off target.
This morning, I walked upon him in the barn and I was unarmed. I looked at him and he looked at me and I could almost see the cartoon bubble above his head that said, "Oh, crap!" He scurried safely beneath the corn crib. But I knew his habits so I retrieved my rifle and set up in another barn and waited for him to come out into the open. I knew exactly where my cats were, so there was no chance of killing one of them with a bad shot, something that had nearly happened earlier in the week.
As I stood there beneath a flawless blue sky, I was taken with the absolute beauty of the morning, and while I waited to shed marsupial blood, a poem cozied itself up inside my head and I tapped it out on my iPhone as I kept my eyes peeled for my quarry. I call it:
A Ode to an O'possum on a brisk late February Morning
Save the cawing of a crow
Laying late morning shadow
Awaiting the thaw of the sun
Universally joined as one
Locked and loaded with shell
I'll blow that possum to hell.
P.S. He never showed his pointy, little snout. The dance continues!