On my way to water the strawberries at dusk—I gardened in those days—
I saw a raccoon clasping the outdoor spigot like a sailor’s wheel, using both paws, that seemed more and more like hands as it kept twisting until water gushed out of the copper nozzle and it drank.
I hadn’t thought of it in years, not even after I saw another raccoon, high-stepping the coyote fence midday with a limp vole overhanging its mouth. Such a singular sight, I had to tell you, and blurted it out as soon as I saw you, a piece of domestic gossip like the first crocus or noisy neighbors:
common property, like so much in marriage— a small business, a friend called it, down to the cooked books. Only later, after I recognized the raccoon sauntering through a line in one of your poems . . . only after the pressure cooker of my displeasure caused you to recast your raccoon and vole as skunk and mole,
did I flash on the one I’d seen decades before: its lack of furtiveness, the air it had of being within its rights, the way it took its time to retrace its steps to turn the water off.
—Or did it amble on and let the water run?
No copyright protects idle talk, you might have said, or, The imaginarium of marriage knows no bounds.