22 September 2008

Possums (rev)

Formerly: Possums Came At Night

You could see the signs which said that possums
came by night and fed upon this tree, they left
their mark in fruit discards and broken twigs and
shredded leaves spread randomly in careless piles
beneath its ravaged canopy.

Father ground his teeth, his frown a sentence to
the pests; such waste he said, you’d think they’d
eat the best and leave the rest for us, but no, they
have to have a taste of every piece. He cleaned his
gun with dour intent, tonight they’ll pay, he said.

We could see their furry pelts stretched tight upon
the drying boards at 2/6d each, hardening in the
springtime sun, bleaching to a silvered grey, a fair
reward to pay for widespread wanton waste
these hairy beasts called feral possums wreak.

Brush-tailed possums, trichosurus vulpecula, Sons
of Satan to a name whose personal claim to fame
was an invasion of our orchard every year; we
were fortunate they didn’t seem to care for plums
as near as much as peaches, even nectarines.

But they wasted so much more than ever was
consumed. The moon is right tonight, full and fair,
our father reasoned, we’ll see them in the branches
clearly set against the moonlit sky, they’ll wonder
why we point out torches, peer intently at us
while we shoot them there.

Ever seen the brightness of a possum’s eyes at night
when handheld light pins them in suspense? Heard the
high-pitched crack of bullet which despatches them? Ever
heard the weary grunt, or softly fluid thump of corpses
bumping to the ground, or worse, the sound of panicked urine
voiding down the trunk of trees which gave no sanctuary?

I’m not proud of bloody nights we took a heavy
toll, nor proud of harsh controls we used in need
to keep their numbers low; I’m only glad we’ve
grown in our belief a possum here is not by choice
or desperate deed an avocado thief.
© 2005, I.D. Carswell