Here's my darkly comedic poem written after I read William Stafford's poem about a similar experience:
Clara’s ancient fingers grasp the shovel
hovering over the rounded belly
of the dead opossum resting resigned
in the rusty wheelbarrow – surely
they won’t last a day on their own.
Flea-ridden, squinting eyes, squirming,
caught in the innocent pouch
of their late mother’s rigid flesh.
Clara remembers her own pregnancies.
Six of them – weighing down her petite
five-foot frame with their tiny demands,
restless sleep, and beginning tap steps.
Long after her first husband succumbed
to Lou Gehrig’s, her second was crushed
by his tractor, and she found him
much like this opossum –
pregnant with life, but unable to finish
mowing the last acre. But there –
whack! – will be – whack! – no –
whack! whack! – prolonged agony –
whack! for these tiny – whack! – beings.
Whack! whack! whack!
But sleep will elude Clara –
envisioning the pious lives those
‘possums could have lived
had their mother survived
to wean them and teach them
how to scuttle across the road
without getting whacked.