The boy found the possum in the middle of the country road.
Though he had never seen one, he had heard about the possum,
about how, when it was scared or anxious or worried,
it just curled up and turned off,
dead to the world.
And only the possum knew for sure whether it was alive.
It was a magical power these possums had,
this ability to be
like a zombie
both dead and not dead.
The boy had tried death once on the living room floor
but got the giggles
and sprang back to life
and went in search of something more interesting to be
He had never imagined, though, that this possum,
this magical undead creature,
its gray-white fur matted with grime,
its naked tail curled like a log of white poo waiting to be pinched off,
its uneven row of tiny sharp teeth between wrinkled pink lips.
What could this ugly creature be but a possum?
He knew from stories that only the most evil
of magical animals was
The possum, then, must be the evilest creature alive.
But maybe the possum wasn’t magic --
just some normal ugly forest creature.
What if there was no magic at all?
Maybe magical was just another word for fiction?
Maybe this dead possum wasn’t even dead,
there in the middle of the road.
Only frightened and alone and turned off.
The boy found a stick beside the road
And crept toward the creature,
And the possum lay in the road, waiting to be poked.