Poetry Sunday: Possum Crossing by Nikki Giovanni

Wildlife crossings are an excellent idea whose time has come. They are very popular wherever they have been installed. They are essentially designated wildlife highways that allow animals to safely cross busy highways. They save countless animal lives. But what about all those smaller highways and byways and country roads that most of us travel? There are no designated passages there but animals still cross those roads. And so it is up to us humans who share the roads with them to try to keep them safe, to drive at a reasonable speed that will allow us to stop in time to avoid adding to the roadkill toll. Be advised, therefore, that I do brake for possums and raccoons and armadillos and turtles and snakes and the occasional butterfly and any other living thing that crosses my path. Nikki Giovanni would, too.  

Possum Crossing

by Nikki Giovanni

Backing out the driveway
the car lights cast an eerie glow
in the morning fog centering
on movement in the rain slick street

Hitting brakes I anticipate a squirrel or a cat or sometimes
a little raccoon
I once braked for a blind little mole who try though he did
could not escape the cat toying with his life
Mother-to-be possum occasionally lopes home … being
naturally … slow her condition makes her even more ginger

We need a sign POSSUM CROSSING to warn coffee-gurgling
we share the streets with more than trucks and vans and
railroad crossings

All birds being the living kin of dinosaurs
think themselves invincible and pay no heed
to the rolling wheels while they dine
on an unlucky rabbit

I hit brakes for the flutter of the lights hoping it’s not a deer
or a skunk or a groundhog
coffee splashes over the cup which I quickly put away from me
and into the empty passenger seat
I look …
relieved and exasperated …
to discover I have just missed a big wet leaf
struggling … to lift itself into the wind
and live


  1. I too brake for wildlife but the amount of carnage seen on the road seems to indicate that a whole lot of others don't. I realize that collisions with animals are sometimes unavoidable, but a little less speed and a lot more vigilance would avoid many of them.

    1. Unfortunately, some people are just in too big a hurry to care.

  2. The speed limit in the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge is thirty mph. There's not another car on the road, and the road goes on forever. But you can easily come to a stop if an animal is in the road. And that is a common occurence.

    1. All the secondary roads that I travel have animals that share those roads. I always try to drive accordingly.

  3. I swear I’ve never seen so many dead animals on the road as I have out here in Oklahoma! I always break for any little creatures! I’ve even almost been hit in the back of my car once for doing it but I’m not going to hurt any animal!

    1. It always breaks my heart a bit to see those tragic little bodies on the road.


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