The Opossum That Came To Visit
By Peter Menkin

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The Opossum That Came To Visit
By Peter Menkin

This children's story is about an Opossum that lived under the porch of a friend's home for a while. It is different from my usual poetry. I hope you will like it.

Tilde was a girl opossum who lived under the back porch of the house at the end of the road then a left turn into the drive a walk of 100 feet to the steps that led to the front porch. She had been living there since summer began. Tilde was a pretty opossum to other opossums and had a keen sense of sight--for an opossum.

That’s what the cats that lived in the house said about her. They also said that she was one of the homeliest creatures they’d ever set sights on and in their conversations about Tilde, whom they liked to talk about since she was new, they never once questioned where she came from or where she might be going. For all intents and purposes Tilde was there and had set up housekeeping.

One thing this meant, since Tilde liked a little snack now and then, was she had nibbles available to her when the cats weren’t around. At night Tilde left her cool spot under the porch, where she had a chair and a table and a small radio which got most of the local stations and went out through her front door at the side opening of the porch and right onto the roof of her house, (the people in the house called her roof their back porch), where she found a nice plate of nibbles that the cats had left. But Tilde wasn’t always so lucky to find a full plate of nibbles.

The raccoons who lived around the house often came at night and in their noisy raccoon way made quick eating of the nibbles. Tilde, who was an opossum who liked things the way things should be, and that meant quiet and under her control, especially on the roof of her own house, considered the raccoons, fat things that they were, she often thought, a nuisance.

She planned to put out a jar of peanut butter, leave it for them to eat during one of their greedy visits and relished the idea of their getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of their mouths.

The idea of it brought an uproarious laugh to the whole area. But Tilde didn’t care who heard her. She was willing to let it all hang out and it felt good. “That will teach those raccoons to fool with my plate of nibbles in the middle of the night,” she thought to herself. She almost hugged herself with glee when she thought again about the peanut butter she was going to set out for them.

“What’s the point of all this,” Tilde thought to herself, after she considered putting out the peanut butter, while at the same time relishing the idea of two fat raccoons licking the roof of their respective mouths and wishing they had some water to wash away the peanut butter.

“What is the point,” she reminded herself assertively, for Tilde was an assertive opossum. “The point is that this place where I live is a veritable Garden of Eden, and the nibbles a part of the fig tree--fruit for her day. It was in fact a favorite part of her day because at night she could venture out and make a stop along her travels, which she liked to do, and between looks at the moon have some nibbles. So Tilde decided to put up a sign, one the raccoons could read. You can see a copy of the sign

Tilde put up on dirt path by the drive to the front steps of the house, near the underneath way of the porch:

God is near. Rejoice in the evening and dance in the moonlight, wait for the sun, and begin a good life, enjoy. Or something about peanut butter warning. Or something about keep off the nibbles, and cryptic lettering of ancient kinds, and kindnesses).

You probably can’t read it. Tilde knew what it said, and certainly the raccoons knew what it said. When Tilde was writing for them she kept thinking that maybe it would be better to make a similar, more direct sign--something with a straightforward message like,

“Keep Off the Grass.” But, no that wouldn’t work, because the raccoons never keep off grass anywhere if they want to walk on grass. In fact, in Tilde’s first summer she’d heard the mice that lived in the house say that the raccoons were perfectly happy to not only get on grass, but to dig up grass. Of course there wasn’t any grass for digging up around the house, except down by the creek. Nonetheless, this was getting off the subject and if there was anything Tilde was good at it was getting off the subject. She decided on the sign that you see when you go by the house near the drive.

We’re getting to the end of our story, so to make a long story short, Tilde didn’t succeed in keeping the raccoons from the nibbles. But she did succeed in making a very nice sign, which the raccoons commented on and spent some time looking at.

In fact, the sign was the talk of the raccoon community, which she heard when they started their usual pushing and shoving each other around. The sign stood all summer long. And Tilde often had nibbles on her moonlight walks, by the way.

After all, the raccoons left some. And no, she never did get around to putting out the peanut butter so fortunately that part of her plan was just a passing thought.

Peter Menkin - Friday, August 04, 2006