The decomposing squirrel in the yard,
a plump sack. That night
I bled for hours, like a dumb animal.
The evening news: Mother’s doing fine today.
By Wednesday, I could smell the body from the porch.
I couldn’t make myself not look.
First the flies on its brown eyes,
then the mice in its tapering ribs.
Soon it looked like the remains of a fish,
a furry scalp, a plush dead thing.
I drank lemonade and gin in the shade
as the neighbor’s cat stalked the bossy blue jays.
(Mothers, in this case.)
They kept up the noise for hours.
Last night it was just a skeleton,
light enough to be lifted by the wind.
Meghan O’Rourke is the author of Halflife, a collection of poems. A recipient of the 2008 May Sarton Poetry Prize, she is co-poetry editor of The Paris Review and a culture critic for Slate. She is at work on a nonfiction book about grief.