DeWitt Henry

September 22, 2022 Henry DeWitt



Regard the luckless cotton-tail,
cat-sized, brown fur, an adult survivor
from our river path or nearby woods.
While foraging in last week’s blizzard,
which had emptied the mall’s tarmac,
she’d been scooped into an avalanche
by a front-loading plow, smothered,
crushed, and lifted as it surged; then
dumped into a drift against
the chain-link fence.  That’s my guess.
I walked plowed streets
to the mall’s gym; took a side street
between apartment buildings.
Along the fence a path was cleared;
and just before the pedestrian gate,
there: the rabbit hung down, street-side:
front paws and head grazing
snow-clotted earth, but hind quarters
jammed mall-side by the mesh.
It had managed to push through
a diamond-shaped opening six rows up
and hardly three fingers wide.
It looked alive, stretched down;
eyes bright, teeth bared, so close
to free; improbable contortionist.
Its squeeze was like a camel’s
through the eye of a needle,
or like a second birth gone wrong.
Residents must avoid the sight,
unsure who should remove it.
Mall owners?  Sanitation?  Animal Control?
Someone has to clip and pry the wire,
or hack the back legs from its hips.
Meanwhile, the carcass hangs stiffly;
probably will keep for spring.

DeWitt Henry’s chapbook, FOUNDLINGS: FOUND POEMS FROM PROSE (Life Before Man/ Gazebo Books), and his first collection, RESTLESS FOR WORDS: POEMS (Finishing Line Press) are available this fall, 2022.  His memoir, ENDINGS & BEGINNINGS: FAMILY ESSAYS (Mad Hat, 2021), was long listed for the PEN Award for the Art of the Essay, 2022.  He was the founding editor of Ploughshares and is Prof. Emeritus at Emerson College. Details at .