Pete, the baby opossum-possum

I met Pete between
the roses and a side-turned
terra cotta pot, a few steps
from a grow-tall hibiscus.
Named him Pete because alliterating
a possum’s name de-rat-ed him some.
I know. Technically Pete’s a marsupial,
but if you look at a koala and look
at a rat, Pete, well, you get it…

And somehow a polysyllabic
Oliver Opossum seemed a bit
pretentious for a rodent-esque,
nervous baby. I now know
opossums and possums are different.
(Pete’s an opossum, but I don’t
tend to mention it.)

Mild digression. In all my years
of Googling weird things,
I’d never once researched
possums or opossums. I’d had
to look up bats a few years
back due to an incident one morning
in 2017 that involved the kitchen,
frantic above-head swirling,
and me ducking and screaming.

So Possum Pete he became.
(Not sure if he was a he,
but that didn’t seem to bother Pete.)
Now normally, I’m jumpy
around rat-like creatures.
But something about his
little face, and endearing eyes,
and tiny claws, or paws, or
whatever they’re called
put me at ease.

He hadn’t yet learned that possums
are supposed to be nocturnal,
and there was poor Possum Pete
seeking shade a few feet from a
bed of basil and parsley. He
stared at me. I stared at him.
He even posed for a picture.
Let me get within two feet.
Then he was gone. And I’m
not sure I want to meet Pete
again. I’m okay with his lurking
somewhere by the back fence,
eating ticks as I’d found they do.
See, he’s no doubt grown now.

But since we’d connected
unexpectedly, I’m putting Pete
in a poem. An alliterative ode
to opossum-possums who
hang out by blossoms.
Too new to the ways
of the world to know yet
that we weren’t supposed
to like each other.

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