Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Poem #4


Snaking between redwoods, inland up 299 
in my old brown Mazda. You were driving. 
The sky between the tall dark trees 
was clearing, from coastal gray to blue, 
when out of the tall grass a raccoon 
waddled into the left lane, our lane, 
followed by four small gray furballs. 
You slammed on the brake,
we fishtailed onto the gravel shoulder and back. 
Without thanks or pause the raccoons went on 
across the right lane, over the shoulder, into the brush and safety. 
Behind us an eighteen-wheeler's brakes shrieked, 
its horn blasted a long loud curse.
The driver flipped us off as he changed lanes,
just missing the last little raccoon.

"That guy's really pissed," you said, and we laughed. 
"Yes," I replied, "but mama and babies are safe."
And that was all we said about it.

When I learned to drive in high school,
the instructor said never swerve.
Better to kill an animal than risk your own safety. 
Probably. Pragmatically. I guess. 
But here's what I know. Sometimes 
we just act on instinct, and things turn out as they should. 

At Willow Creek we had lunch and sat in the sun 
by the river, drinking beer and reading poetry to each other. 
We filled up at the service station next to the Bigfoot statue 
before heading back to fog and damp. 
You said you liked the way the car handled on the twisty bits: 
"Inside every man is a fifteen-year-old boy, you know." 
"I'm sleeping with a fifteen-year-old boy?" I gasped. 
You grinned, made an unnecessary racing change, 
accelerated out of a sharp curve.

The road straightened as we neared home. 
At the place where you didn't kill the raccoons 
we met two log trucks headed the other way. 
Nothing else of note. No wildlife crossing. No roadkill. 
Just a clear highway leading out of the forest, 
across pastures edged in blackberries 
where cattle grazed in buttercups up to their knees, 
toward a soft gray sunset over a pewter sea.

                                  --Victoria Stefani (draft)

Today's prompt comes from NaPoWriMo to write a love poem without the word "love" and "avoid the flowers and rainbows." Or write a break-up poem, but again, "without the traditional trappings you associate with the subject matter." I think this is a love poem, but you can decide. And please let me know!

I found yet another "poem-a-day challenge" blog, this one called "There Is No Pilot" It's worth checking out.


  1. Definitely a love poem! It's such a great story, too. I want to know what happens to the couple! And I'm glad you didn't kill the raccoons.

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  3. Very nice. The situation reminded me of William Stafford's "Traveling Through the Dark" though that's not a love poem.

  4. Thank you! Sharon, they're still together, many years later. Vince, I see what you mean. It's funny, I was thinking about Stafford's poem the other day in connection with something else, but probably it's what brought out the line about swerving.