All the Dead Animals
BY CATHERINE PIERCE
The highway’s asphalt smudged
with tragic beagles and armadillos,
deer who staggered to the median—
we know those. The avian accidents,
too: cardinal who mistook glass for sky,
small naked robin on the sidewalk.
But what about the ones who kept
surviving? Where is the gray squirrel
gone grayer until its acorn-heart
stopped? The long-lived mallard
who floated one day into no-day?
Where are their soft, still bodies?
It makes sense, or I want it to:
the animals take such care not to die.
Every summer I walk by Silver Lake,
its bank shining with sunning turtles
—snappers, red-eared sliders—
and when I pass they slip noiselessly
into the water. I want to believe that
some wild things go to death only
if they’re chased there. I want
to believe in some vast secret
forest where lucky old hawks
hunt forever and elderly coyotes doze
in a clearing. I could never visit,
I know. But somehow that place
would gentle my own life—its teeth
and instinct, its hackles, its flight.