David Wagoner

5 June 1926 / Massillon, Ohio

Road Kill

The three crows are scuttling back and forth
between the gutter and the dead possum
near the yellow-striped center
where commuters are trying hard not to encounter
anything but the road on the way to work
this dark winter morning. The crows are hungry,
and their half-finished breakfast is no longer
worrying about its share of the wealth,
so it's all theirs. Other birds, if down here
on their own, on their own two feet, would panic instantly
instantly seeing us rapidly approaching
in our free-wheeling machinery,
but not these customers who've learned exactly
how much time and space are being offered
between the violent edges
of a snatch-and-grab breakfast. None of us
bothers honking. We've grown accustomed
to their evasions and skillful getaways,
their unflutterable manners in keeping this highway clear
of the evidence of our hurry to get somewhere,
no matter what might be unable
to get out of our road quickly enough. Sure,
later, in the middles of our day,
we might slow down
a little or even swerve, but it's rush hour
for everyone involved in forward progress
except the possum. The crows know
they have to take chances now
while there are still chances to take
and their share of the market is still open.
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