Fair Game

The hole in the snowbank was deep,

and as I peered into it, I imagined I was looking

at some wild animal burrowed away for its own

safekeeping, hunkered down for the night descending.

Those were eyes, weren’t they?  Aren’t they yellowish?

I was young enough to think I could put my hand in there to find out,

but old enough to know that was probably not a good idea.

Maybe it was a badger I’d seen scampering in?  I’d never seen one.

A possum?  I’d seen many run over on the Wisconsin byways.

Did I just see those eyes blink? I wondered, still not sure

that there was really anything in there at all, my eyes playing tricks.

I walked across the road to a convenience store.

The clerk, a kid younger than I, shrugged his shoulders

when I asked if he thought, was there maybe a fox

or something living in that hole over there.

He looked at me the way I look at tourists with odd questions back home.

I stood looking through the glass, sipping a cup of coffee,

thinking about how it would feel to sleep deep in the snow like that,

thought about the night coming on, thought about Frost,

thought about large cars rushing death down the road,

drivers startled to see some animal rushing into their path.

But had I really seen something scurry in there?

I bought a bag of beef jerky, walked back across the road,

tore it open, and tossed the strips into the hole.

I hoped that whatever it was, if it was, it ate meat,

and that it would at least not be hungry there in the dark.

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