KATHERINE FLANNERY DERING
I’d left three small plates of food scraps
on the ground by my deck, and brown,
crusted-over bits still clung to the rims.
The food eaten, perhaps, by that family of raccoons--
burly beggars, stealers of garbage, makers
of messes in driveways.
Two mammoth crows strutted about from
bird feeder to bird bath, their blue-black plumage
shining like a businessman’s just-polished dress shoes.
Had they eaten the food scraps, I wondered.
But what scraps were they, anyway, I suddenly thought.
And where had the plates gone?
Just at the point I had conjured up a family of opossums,
squeaking and grunting as their pink, obscene forms
dug into bits of week-old black beans and chicken cacciatore,
next to the garden hose that lay there like gigantic tangled
green spaghetti, it occurred to me that I was dreaming.
There were no three small plates.
They must be some neural transplant
of the three little, green-rimmed dishes my sister
uses to feed her three cats,
or used to do, before two of them
disappeared in the night and
were never seen again.