ROADKILL

 

The run-over squirrel has lost its charm,
Mouth open, one claw up in the sky,
Blood like a bib, tail still moving
In the breeze of afternoon traffic. Its eyes held
A piece of reddish sky,
The tongue a taste of autumn air.
What was he doing but crossing the road,
For he, too, had to eat. Just out of his reach,
An acorn for winter, sustenance
For wherever the spring-time squirrels go—
A tunnel of spiraling ivy, the crack of twigs,
Under the boards of a toppled fence.

I look up and around—
The traffic is faster than I remember.
The headlights of speeding cars will find us all.

 

Gary Soto’s middle-grade novel Puppy Love is due from Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2023. He’s at work on an independent feature-length film based on his novel Buried Onions. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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